Myanmar Mangoes

Mango and Avocado Salsa

Mango and Avocado Salsa

Mango and Avocado Salsa

Mango and Avocado Salsa

After spending three months in South East Asia and mostly eating fresh local mangos for breakfast (because anything more would have just sent me back to sleep) I find the same breakfast in the UK just doesn’t cut it!

Myanmar Mangoes

Myanmar Mangoes

This morning I was highly disappointed with the mango that I’d just bought from the supermarket, finding it already blackened inside and not nearly as sweet as the ones I’d grown accustomed to in Myanmar…

My Myanmar Breakfasts

My Myanmar Breakfasts

However it did remind me about to post this basic recipe of Mango and Avocado salsa! A great addition to any barbecue spread or with some lightly grilled fish for a light summery dinner. There is a fair bit of chopping but it all just gets tossed together right before eating so no cooking involved!

Mango and Avocado Salsa Ingredients

Mango and Avocado Salsa Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • Fresh mango, cubed
  • Half a cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and sliced
  • Ripe avocado, cubed
  • Lime, quartered and juiced
  • Red chilli pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Red onion, finely diced (I forgot this bit!)

Method: 

  • Mix everything up just before serving!

The mangoes and avocado are sweet and soft, the cucumber and onion adds texture, whilst the coriander, lime and chilli pepper add extra punchy flavours. A very simple salad that will always remind me of the delicious Myanmar mangoes… 😀

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Nepalese Dal Bhat: A Cracking Good Food Session

Nepalese Dal Bhat

The shocking news of the devastation caused by the earthquake on 25th April 2015 in Nepal that has seen the lives of 2000 people lost is beyond my comprehension. Just reading the stories and seeing the images on line is shocking enough, and my heart goes out to those affected. If you are able to contribute any financial support, please donate to your local Red Cross society who have set up an emergency appeal to support survivors and their families.

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

It is at times like these that I am reminded of my good fortune in life. To be able to live in a stable country better equiped to deal with devastating natural disasters. Although I am in Myanmar, far away from the country of Nepal, I have received numerous messages from my friends and family concerned of my welfare and worrying how I am getting on in this new country.

Dal Bhat

This post should have been written a couple of months ago, but as life got busy it got pushed further down the list of priorities. However it seems like its the right time to share these recipes now. Even though Nepal is in the midst of mass devastation there will be people who will be trying to get some normality in their lives, preparing Dal Bhat as their staple meal twice a day.

Cracking Good Food Nepalese Dal Bhat Cooking Class

Dal is an aromatic lentil soup that adds flavour to plain rice (bhat) and provides a great base for your curries. The recipes are courtesy of Momo Cooking who run fun and friendly workshop style cooking classes teaching everything you need to know about home cooked Nepalese food. As well as running their own cooking classes and catering business, they also run classes for Cracking Good Food to spread the word of great Nepalese cuisine!

Momo Cooking

Momo Cooking

Dal Bhat is the reknowned Nepali dish and a staple in the rice-cultivating regions. It generally consists of dal (lentils), baht (rice), a vegetable curry / saag, and a chutney. It is usually eaten by mixing the dal with the rice to form a soupy mixture, making a ball of the mixture with your hands, and adding curry and chutney. Hense why this post consists of three recipes! (All recipes are taken directly from Momo Cooking)

Cracking Food Good Dal Bhat cooking class

Dal

Ingredients (10 servings)

  • 200g Red lentils
  • 200g Black lentils (urid dal)
  • 2 1/2 litres water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Spices:

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp curry powder

Method

  • Rinse and drain your lentils until the water is clear
  • Add all of the water, spices and oil
  • Cover the pan and bring contents to boil. Once boiling, leave covered and simmer for around 90 minutes until the dal has reduced down and thickened into a creamy soup.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.

* Tip: To save time when cooking dal, make up a large batch and then divide and freeze individual portions. Take out and re-heat until bubbling as and when you need it. Make sure to taste your reheated dal before serving as it may need reseasoning.

Dal Bhat

Garlic Saag

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 250g fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 1/2 tbsp oil

Method

  • Heat oil in a pan and fry garlic until just starting to brown.
  • Add spinach, sprinkle with salt and stir fry until the spinach has wilted down.
  • Take off the heat and serve.

*Tip: Try replacing the spinach for seasonal greens such as kale or spring greens, and add a bit of heat by throwing in a bit of chopped fresh chilli.

Tomato Achaar

Tomato Achaar

Tomato Achaar

Served as a classic accompaniment to dal bhat, or with crispy papadums as a tasty snack in its own right Ingredients (6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soya beans
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced
  • 200 ml water
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Spices:

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp meat masala
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp mild curry powder

*Tip: If it’s hard for you to get hold of soya beans, you can replace them with fresh garden peas instead. Skip step 1 and 2 in the method, and add the peas in step 8, in place of the cooked soya beans. Remove from the heat once the peas are cooked.

Method

  • Heat the soya beans in a dry pan for about 5 minutes.
  • Move the beans around the pan regularly to ensure that they cook evenly on every side. You will know the beans are cooked when you hear small popping sounds, see small brown dots appear on the beans and you get a nutty smell coming from the pan.
  • Take beans off the heat and set aside until later.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a high sided pan, add the onions and fry until starting to brown.
  • Add turmeric and stir.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic and chilli and stir in until everything is coated with oil and turmeric.
  • Sprinkle the salt and the rest of the spices evenly across the tomatoes, add the water and stir everything through so that the spices are mixed into the curry.
  • Cover pan, bring up to a boil.
  • As tomatoes soften, use the back of a spoon to mash them together. Slowly add more water if the tomatoes seem to be drying out and catching on the pan.
  • Once all of the tomatoes have softened, add the cooked soya beans and stir through.
  • Leave on the heat for about another minute, stirring and adding splashes of water if needed.
  • Remove from the heat, garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

I’ve not included a curry recipe in this post as it’s getting far too long! Add your favouite vegetable and/or meat dishes to this for a completely satisfying meal… Enjoy! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake (Gluten Free and Dairy Free): Clandestine Cake Club meet No. 2

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

I have previously written about the Clandestine Cake Club of which I am a proud member. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, so you can see where this post is going… 🙂

The last time I attended a CCC event, I took the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake and the theme was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. This event theme was: ‘the Great British Bake Off! The ultimate baking-together experience. Whether you choose a recipe from one of the winners or something that was featured on the programme, even if you want to recreate the tent in cake, the choice is yours.’

I have to admit that I didn’t actually go with the theme as I forgot all about it! 🙂 The idea was to spend two hours baking a cake that could then be shared with fellow bakers and their friends/family later on. I loved the idea of spending the afternoon baking with people who love cake as much as I do, sharing tips and learning from each other. This is also one of the main reasons I write a food blog! 🙂

So that takes me to the inspiration for my cake. Wendy at Chez Chloe wrote about this recipe for Orange and Almond Cake, and I was absolutely hooked on the simplicity of the recipe!  The recipe if gluten free and dairy free (if you skip the caramel top!) Check out Wendy’s post for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare this cake.

With only having 2 hours to bake and decorate a cake, I wanted to go with something very simple but delivers on flavour too. The idea for the additional almond caramel top came from a pear and almond cake that I’ve had in a local coffee shop called ‘Teacup’. I generally love caramel and thought it would be a nice decorative feature that doesn’t rely on the cake being cooled before it can be added on.

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

So here is how it was done:

Step one: Prepare the cake as Wendy suggests- I used one less egg and an 18″ round loose bottom cake tin. However this meant that the cake took a lot longer to bake, so I would suggest a 23″ round tin.

Step two: While the cake is baking make a basic caramel by simmering 125g butter, 125g butter, 50ml milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it is smooth and a deep caramel colour. Mix in 150g toasted almond flakes.

Step three: When the cake is cooked through, pour all the almond caramel mix on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Almond Caramel Topping

Almond Caramel Topping

The cake should be served slightly warm, with a little cream if that takes your fancy! I think we could have done with letting it cool a little before cutting into it, however the extra baking time and hungry cake fans meant that this just wasn’t an option! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

The cake was super moist and the slightly bitter caramel topping did a great job of seeping into the top of the cake to create a lovely balance of flavours. Check out Helena’s official write up of the event!

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the amazing Sean from ‘Cook Manchester’ who provide fully equipped professional kitchen hire for small businesses. I had a good chat with Sean about his business and the kinds of people who have used the facilities. He’s a really inspiring guy who is passionate about  food and helping others to realise their dreams of starting their own food business. Please check out the website and share with friends who may be interested in finding out more about the facilities.

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

 

CCC-Bake Along

CCC-Bake Along

 

Tofu Stir Fry with Chicken and Chorizo rice

Chorizo and Chicken Rice with Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry

Tofu Stir Fry with Chicken and Chorizo Rice

Tofu Stir Fry with Chicken and Chorizo Rice

I have previously posted a recipe for Macau Portuguese Baked Rice. This time I have used the same flavour combinations but simplified the recipe for a quicker meal that takes less than 30 minutes to put together and serve for a mid week dinner. Refer to the previous recipe, but skip the cheese and boiled eggs so the rice is only steamed on the stove. I poached some chicken with cloves, bay leaves and garlic then left it in the fridge, for when I was cooking this dish. However any left over roast chicken will work too.

Chorizo and Chicken Rice

Chorizo and Chicken Rice

To go with the rice, I quickly stir-fried some ready cooked fried tofu with some chopped leeks, mange tout, celery and mushrooms. These are basically the vegetables I had in the fridge/freezer so any you have to use up could work too.

Tofu Stir Fry

Tofu Stir Fry

Fried tofu is a great vegetarian staple to have in the fridge for a quick and nutritious meal. They can be bought in bags in Asian supermarkets (look in the fridges) or you can deep fry your own tofu.

Fried Tofu Sticks

Fried Tofu Sticks

To add flavour to the tofu and vegetables, I used a couple of table spoons of vegetarian stir-fry sauce (an alternative to oyster sauce), light and dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. The tofu soaks up all the flavours like a sponge, so you can add what ever you like to the sauce. I added a few splashes of water too as the dish was a little too dry. Remember not to over cook the vegetables as you’re looking for the crunchy texture to contrast the soft tofu!

Tofu Stir Fry with Chicken and Chorizo rice

Tofu Stir Fry with Chicken and Chorizo rice

This tofu dish can be served with plain rice or egg fried rice for a filling vegetarian meal.

If you are avoiding gluten, double check the label of the chorizo and cooking sauces for gluten. Gluten free versions can usually be found!

GF and Vegan: Sweet Potato Vermicelli with Vegetables in Blackbean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables in Blackbean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

Have you ever heard of Sweet Potato Vermicelli?! Well I’ve had this packet of dried noodles in my cupboard for about 2 years and had forgotten all about it until today. I’m not even sure why I bought it in the first place! Maybe because it is something I hadn’t tried before?  When the noodles are dry they are grey but once cooked they become clear. There are only two ingredients to these noodles; sweet potato flour and water!

Sweet Potato Vermicelli

Sweet Potato Vermicelli

After over-indulging in pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, tonight’s dinner really needed to be healthy and nutritious! So I dug out all the vegetables from the fridge and decided to make a stir fry in black bean sauce. Fermented black beans can be found in Chinese supermarkets in bottles. Ideally you would use the dried black beans rather than the bottles of ready made black bean sauce, however if you want to make this recipe super quick and easy then feel free to use bottled sauces. 

Unfortunately the packet of noodles didn’t have any cooking instructions so I decided to guess it. In hindsight, I should have just looked it up online as there are plenty of websites offering advice! Lessons learned and all that… 🙂

Sauce ingredients

Sauce ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Sweet Potato Vermicelli
  • 3tbs fermented blackbeans
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs corn flour
  • Water
  • Stir frying vegetables (I used broccoli, courgettes, carrots and leeks)
  • Coriander (I had a bunch of stalks left over so used them)
Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce

Method

  • Boil the noodles for 5 minutes (you should then ‘shock’ them in cold water and then coat in sesame oil so they don’t get too sticky)
  • Blanch vegetables that need to be pre-cooked and set aside (I threw them in with the noodles)
  • Mix the black beans, garlic, sugar, salt, soy sauces, salt and sesame oil together in a bowl
  • Heat up the vegetable oil and and stir fry the leeks and courgettes
  • Add pre mixed black bean sauce ingredients to the pan and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add water to create the gravy, thickening with the cornflour (to avoid lumps mix the cornflour with water to create a paste before adding)
  • Add the part cooked vegetables and coriander into the sauce and stir around then add the noodles, tossing it all together so all noodles are coated with the sauce
Sweet Potato Noodles in Black Bean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles in Black Bean Sauce

This recipe makes enough for 6 people and is super filling! The Sweet Potato noodles really soak up a lot of the sauce, so the dish ends up quite dry but tasty. I think I over cooked the noodles as they were quite sticky! This may also be because I didn’t ‘shock’ them with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Overall I’d say that the sweet potato vermicelli is a tasty a alternative for people who are looking for an alternative to wheat noodles! And since it is a stir fry, very quick to cook for a mid-week meal…

I’ve also just realised that my soy sauces aren’t gluten free! So please buy GF versions if needed! 🙂

Gluten Free: Pear, Caramel, and Cardamom Upside Down Cake

Pear, caramel and cardamom cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom Upside Down Cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake

It’s coming to the end of the pear season in England. I love pears but only when they are firm and crunchy. Looking over at the fruit bowl brimming with over ripening Conference pears I was trying to think of something simple to do with them. I found this recipe for a French Pear, Almond and Cardamom Cake that sounded delicious! I like the use of cardamom in desserts as it adds a nice background note to often very sweet South Asian and Middle Eastern desserts. I also like the use of almond flour in this recipe as I am trying to cut down on eating refined wheat flour but without cutting down on the amount of cake I can eat! 🙂

I have used a recipe for coconut caramel in a Coconut Caramel Slice recipe and have used this caramel recipe for several recipes since. The left overs from the last batch of caramel slices was in the freezer ready for another use so I decided to use it in this pear cake too.

I also found that the cake batter from the original recipe was not enough as I was using a round loose bottom cake tin rather than a small loaf pan so I have increased some of the ingredients to compensate. This is the recipe I’ve used:

Ingredients

  • 200g of ground almonds
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 100g of butter
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • about 10 pods of cardamom (ground)
  • 3 medium free range eggs

Instructions:

  • slice up pears and layer onto the bottom of cake tin
  • pour over the caramel sauce
  • cream butter and sugar, add ground cardamom and eggs then mix before adding ground almonds and mix well
  • pour cake batter on top of pears and caramel and spread evenly
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes
  • Allow to cool slightly in the tin then upturn onto a dish so it is the right way up
  • Serve with cream/ice cream/custard

I’m fairly happy with the results. The cake was very moist and rich and the individual flavours really held their own! I think next time I’ll put the pears on top of the caramel so they look more caramelised. The cardamom flavour was a lovely addition, if anything I would add more cardamom and reduce the sugar in the cake batter to compensate for the sweet caramel sauce! Yum!

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake

Pear, Caramel and Cardamom cake