Maki sushi - quick and healthy
You can find most of these ingredients at the Chinese/Asian supermarkets. I have been able to find everything in London and Paris for sure.
Sushi rice (see instructions below)
Fillings of your choice: raw fish including tuna and salmon if you know where to get good quality fresh fish. You can also use avocado, cucumber, egg (cooked like an omelette with a little sugar, salt and soy sauce added to the mixture), fake crab (surimi in French), tinned tuna (can mix with chili), smoked salmon, thinly sliced red peppers, cooked green beans, prawns, etc
Cook Japanese short grain rice. 4 c. rice with ~4 c. water
For flavoring cooked, warm rice:
1/3 c. Japanese seasoned vinegar
5 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
Cook over low heat until sugar and salt are dissolved. Cool slightly
before adding to the rice. Add slowly to taste and mix with warm (not hot) rice.
Use the bamboo sushi rolling mat and put the seaweed across the mat. Spread rice thinly from about 2 inches from the top until the bottom edge of the seaweed. Put the fillings a little closer to the bottom and then roll carefully leaving the mat free as you close the seaweed together. Sorry this is hard to describe!
It takes some practice to get the sushi to be round with the stuff in the center.
The maki in the photo were made by friends in Paris who had never before made sushi and I think they did an excellent job!
Foie Gras Spring Rolls
These were a fusion creation made for a friendly cooking competition and they have been a big hit for years. Just one small addition of foie gras to the Vietnamese spring roll - yum!
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
200 g foie gras
50 g glass noodles, soaked in hot water for 8 minutes to soften, then drained
5 spring onions
1 handful wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, then thinly sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
Handful bean sprouts (optional)
1/2 cabbage head, shredded
½ small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed peppercorns
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pack Vietnamese round rice papers (without tapioca or they will be chewy)
Vegetable oil for frying
Optional Sauce: soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh shredded ginger
1. Soak mushrooms in warm water for 15 minutes.
2. Soften glass noodles in a bowl of hot water. Drain when soft and set aside.
3. Cut wood centre from mushrooms, slice thinly and put in large bowl.
4. Chop onion, garlic, and spring onion. Add to mix.
5. Grate carrots. Add to mix.
6. Shred cabbage and add to mix.
7. Crush bean sprout by hand and add to mix. (Optional, I leave out)
8. Cut the glass noodles into short lengths and add to mix.
Pizza dough (and arm workout)
1 packet of yeast, dissolved in 500ml of warm water with 1 tsp sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes
650 g plain flour and more to adjust the dough consistency
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add olive oil. Then add yeast mixture. Mix well with hands. Add more llour and keep kneading with hands for about 20 minutes. Keep adding flour until dough is not sticky and dough sticks together, rather than on hands. It becomes very smooth to the touch.
Put in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Put in a sunny/warm place and let rise for a few hours. Knead a bit more with flour then spread on a tray lined with baking paper greased with olive oil.
Top with tomatoes (drained), mozarella, vegetables and/or meats.
Bake at high temperature around 220C for 10-15 minutes
Thank you to Giorgio Natali and his mother for this recipe!
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S'mores cookies, British style
People in America love S'mores especially in the summertime, when marshmallows can be toasted over a nice fire and then sandwiched with some chocolate between two crisp graham crackers. Yum! I am hungry just thinking about it...
For 4th July in Britain, I attempted to make an easy version of S'mores with the available ingredients, though I must admit that I splurged to get American jet-puffed marshmallows because the British marshmallows are just too dense.
For these easy cookies, start with a base of digestive biscuits. Cut the jumbo marshmallows in halves and put them sticky side down onto the biscuit (I used 3 halves per biscuit). Top with a couple of squares of chocolate. Line up all of the cookies on a baking sheet and put them into the oven for about 7 minutes at 160C or until the marshmallows puff up a bit and the chocolate is melted.
Serve warm if possible, but they taste nice at room temperature too.
Quick mac and cheese casserole
Note to self- must remember to take photos next time! I had to think of something to cook for my friends’ two year olds since I wasn’t sure they would eat moussaka… So I made a mac and cheese casserole and hoped for the best. They loved it and it’s quick and easy!
2 cups dry macaroni or shells
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup soured cream
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
Dash of pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium saucepan, boil water with a dash of salt. Cook pasta according to instructions and drain. While the pasta is draining quickly mix the soured cream, eggs, salt, pepper, milk and 1 cup grated cheese. Add pasta back to pan and top with butter, then mix together until cheese and butter have melted. Transfer into a 9x13 baking pan. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Teriyaki Sauce for a quick, tasty stir-fry
For a quick stir-fry I make this homemade teriyaki sauce. It's tastier than the sauce that comes in packets and is quick, simple and can be made a few days in advance.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)- sherry can be substituted if you cannot find mirin
2 minced garlic cloves
About 2 inch length of ginger, peeled and minced (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp corn starch, dissoved in a small amount of water
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, optional
Mix all ingredients in a jar, shake well and use as stir fry sauce or marinade for chicken, prawns, beef, tofu, and/or vegetables.
You can't go wrong with chocolate! The snickers slices in the middle of these brownies make them even more gooey and nice than normal. Always a favourite at parties and they are easy to make. Feel free to substitute any candy bars in the middle. I tend to use chocolate bars with caramel because that keeps the brownies moist.
Another variation: My friend LC made the brownies with crystals of sea salt rather than normal salt. When mixed into the batter, they gave a little extra salty, crunch. Yum!
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. plain flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 normal size snickers bars cut into thin slices
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (170 C or 160 C for fan ovens). Use a 9X13 inch pan- optional to grease or line with grease-proof (wax) paper. In a bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Spread half of batter evenly in the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from oven and spread the snickers slices evenly. Cover with remaining batter. Bake another 30-40 minutes. The center may still be a bit soft, but the brownies will solidify after cooling. Do not overbake or they will become dry! Serve warm. These freeze well and can then be reheated before serving.
Traditional Thanksgiving Menu
American Thanksgiving is a major holiday, and the one I miss the most now that I am an ex-pat in London. I've been hosting an annual Thanksgiving pot luck dinner in the UK every year for over a decade now. Most ingredients can be found in London or there is a close substitute. I would like to share the main menu and some of the recipes. Usually, I will make the main traditional dishes, and my friends bring a variety of vegetable side dishes, salads, desserts, and of course the wine. The meaning of the day is the same wherever one is in the world- to be thankful for all that we have, to celebrate good friendships and good food, and to eat and drink until you can no longer move. The only thing missing is watching the American football on television, but I don't really miss that!
Roasted turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes with chives
Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows
Green Bean Casserole (from French's onions)
Token healthy green salad (recipe not included)
*Roasting a turkey*
Well, I am not going to post a recipe for this, since there are usually some instructions on the turkey itself. I just have a few tips.
Don't forget to order the turkey at least 4 days in advance if you plan to defrost it in the refrigerator. There is nothing worse then having to spend a couple of extra hours on the day trying to defrost the turkey in a warm bath.
If you want to reduce the greasy mess in the oven and have a juicier bird, then roast the turkey in a large roasting bag.
Rub the turkey with oil so when it comes to crisping the skin at the end, there is enough grease on the turkey skin.
If you are cooking the turkey without stuffing, then put some cut up pieces of onion, rosemary, garlic inside the body cavity to add some extra flavour.
You can find cranberry sauce in a jar in most supermarkets, and I don't really have a gravy recipe so I must admit that I just use the packets and add water plus some of the turkey juices to make it taste a bit more home-made.
*Mashed potatoes with chives*
5 pounds potatoes- Russett or similar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter or more to taste
1 c. milk (or cream or soured cream if you want to make them richer)
Ground pepper to taste
Minced bunch of chives
Peel potatoes - although you can scrub the potatoes and leave some with skin for more country-style potatoes. Cut potatoes in medium sized chunks and boil until very tender.
Mash until smooth in a large bowl.
Mash in the butter and milk (or cream) until the consistency is smooth and creamy or less if you want the potatoes to remain chunky. Add more milk or cream if the mixture seems too dry.
Top with chives.
*Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows*
6 large sweet potatoes
1/4 c. butter or more to taste
1/4 c brown sugar or more to taste
1/2 c. milk
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into pieces. Boil until very tender.
Mash the sweet potatoes until smooth. Add milk, brown sugar, and butter and mix well. Pour into a casserole dish.
Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 15 minutes. Cover with marshmallows and bake until they are toasted brown.
Suggested variations: top with a mixture of brown sugar and pecans or add some Madeira to the mashed mixture
*Green Bean Casserole (from French's onions)*
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 cups cut green beans (use 2- 9 oz. pkgs. frozen (thawed) OR 1 ¼ lbs. fresh green beans)
1 1/3 cups FRENCH'S® Original French Fried Onions (subtitute fried onions from the Indian food section at the supermarket)
MIX soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions.
BAKE at 350°F for 30 minutes or until hot.
STIR. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden.
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp Oil
2 cups flour
1.5 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 cup tinned corn
Mix eggs, butter, and milk in bowl. Add oil, flour, baking powder, corn meal and sugar. Mix well. Mix in corn if desired.
Pour into ungreased 9X 13 inch pan. Bake in preheated 350 Fahrenheit oven for ~30 minutes or until golden brown on top, and toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.
One cornbread (see recipe above) that has been dried out for ~3 days, crumbled
130 grams of pancetta cubes, cooked and drained
4 stalks celery, minced
1 onion, minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (loosely packed)
1/3 cup chopped fresh sage(loosely packed)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
Pour butter evenly over bread mixture, then mix bread with all dry
ingredients. Finally add the broth and the salt and stir. Bake in oven to crisp for about 45 minutes at 350 F.
Serves 10 as a small side dish
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 kg carrots (about 12 medium), peeled and sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
1 Tbsp lemon juice from 1 lemon
Ground black pepper
Brown the pecans in a large frying pan over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pecans to a plate.
Add the carrots, salt, 1/2 of the brown sugar, the broth, and thyme to the skillet. Bring to a boil, covered, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are almost tender when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to high, and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the butter and remaining brown sugar to the skillet. Toss the carrots to coat and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots are completely tender, about 3 minutes. Off heat, add the lemon juice and toss to coat. Transfer the carrots to a serving dish. Season to taste with pepper, sprinkle the pecans on top and serve immediately.
There is no recipe for this... Just take a bag of frozen corn and defrost it, then top with a few pats of butter and some salt, and heat through. I usually end up doing this in the microwave since I have too many other things cooking on the stove and in the oven.
*Pumpkin Pie (from Libby's)*
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 12 oz can 100% pure pumpkin
1 - 12 fl oz can evaporated milk
250g shortcrust pastry
2 X 9 inch shallow pie tins
Preheat oven to 425F.
Spread the shortcrust pastry in the pie tins evenly and up the sides.
Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour mixture evenly into pie shells.
Bake in preheated 425 F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F; bake 20-30 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve with the compressed whipped cream that comes in a can. I know it is kind of disgusting, but it is the traditional American way!
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. hot water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1/2 cup dark chocolate, cut into chunks
Deep 9 inch pie tin with ~100 g shortcrust pastry spread evenly and up the sides
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine butter, eggs, corn syrups and light brown sugar and whisk until mixed. Dissolve the granulated sugar in hot water, and then add to the other ingredients. Add salt and vanilla and mix well. Mix in the chocolate pieces.
Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and spread the pecan pieces in the pie crust. Pour the pie mixture over the pecans.
Bake at for 350F for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325F and continue baking for about 30 more minutes until the filling is set and the crust is brown.
Lamb Tagine in a pot
There may be more traditional recipes which recommend using a clay tagine for better flavour and more tender meat... Well I have made this dish in a tagine and in a soup pot, and none of my guests could tell the difference between the two! Therefore I go for the easier option, which is to make this in one pot on the stove top.
10 min prep and overnight marinating, then 2-3 hours cooking time
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg diced lamb (I trim off some of the excess fat)
1 cup chicken stock
250 g dried apricots
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Place all of the spices, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl and mix to form a paste. Coat the lamb with the paste,cover and refrigerate overnight (or minimum 4 hours).
Heat a large soup pot on high, then add lamb pieces and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until well browned. Pour the stock over lamb. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If lamb is not tender after one hour, make sure liquid level is not too low and simmer for up to another hour.
Mix in the apricots and almonds into the stew, and simmer over medium heat uncovered for another hour, or until lamb is tender. The juices should become thicker during this time, so the stew is less watery. Stir occasionally.
Serve with steamed couscous.
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Microwave chocolate cake
A few year ago, I was living in Vietnam for several months and my apartment did not have an oven. I really missed baking and also eating baked goods! My colleague sent me a recipe for a chocolate cake in a mug. I was skeptical at first, but then I tried it and it was actually really tasty and quick. One can add different ingredients to make variations. This really saved the day when I was missing home and missing cakes.
4 tablespoons plain flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
Small handful of chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate (can substitute a handful of chopped pecans, chopped candy bar of your choices, dried fruits, etc)
a small splash of vanilla essence, optional
Add dry ingredients to microwave-safe bowl, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla essence, and mix again. Scrape down the sides and even out the surface of the batter.
Put the bowl in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate, or eat it straight from the bowl.
This carrot cake is one of my staple dessert recipes, and the favourite of many of my friends. It is also very simple, and the batter can be made in one bowl. The icing is creamy and delicious, and can be used to top other kinds of cakes such as lemon cake. I'm not a big fan of overly sweet icing, but although this appears to have a large quantity of icing sugar, it is not too sweet.
Servings: 16 generous pieces
2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
4 c. grated carrots (about 5 med/large carrots)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/3 c. melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat eggs in a bowl and add sugar and oil. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and beat or whisk for 2 minutes. Add carrots, vanilla, and nuts and mix well with a wooden spoon. Turn into an ungreased 13 X 9 inch pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will be a moist cake. For the frosting, soften the cream cheese by mixing and then add melted butter and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar as you continue mixing and it should form a paste-like consistency.
I usually ice the cake in the pan rather than turning it out, and then cut and serve pieces from the pan.
A new Autumn variation suggested by my friends JW and KT is to top the cake with pomegranate kernels. This adds some colour and also a slight tart taste, which goes along well with the cake.
Persian style mini meat pies
The original recipe has a special dough with yeast and olive oil, but I have found that the pre-made shortcrust pastry works almost just as well. It is certainly very tasty if not completely authentic. This is the simplified recipe.
1 pound ground lamb, beef or turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 Tbsp pomegranate paste or molasses
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Seven Spices (equal parts of Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice, Fenugreek, Cloves, Cinnamon, Black pepper)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2c toasted pine nuts for garnish
250 g ready-made shortcrust pastry
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut round using a glass with diameter of about 4 cm across, if possible.
Mix all the ingredients for the meat filling together.
Place the meat filling into the pie-shaped third of dough that you'd cut from your disc.
Moisten the edges of your dough with water using the tip of your finger.
Pinch the corners of your dough together so they form a triangular boat shape as in the picture.
Press the meat down into the corners of the pastry triangle, using the meat to help stabilize the walls of the dough.
Be sure the bottom of your dough is slightly dry and floured.
Garnish each pie with a few toasted pine nuts.
Bake on a tray in the oven at 350 degrees F until the bottom of your dough is slightly browned (about 10 minutes), and remove while dough remains slightly soft
These freeze relatively well then re-heat in the oven to serve.
Note: The cup refers to an American cup
Tiramisu, simplified and without raw eggs
serves 4-5 (can be doubled)
1 250 g container of mascarpone cheese
1/2 c. icing/powdered sugar
2/3 c. whipping cream
2/3 c. strongly brewed coffee
1/4 c. Kahlua liqueur
2-3 Tbsp. Amaretto
1 package trifle sponge or sponge/lady fingers
toasted almond slices (optional)
Mix the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it is fairly stiff. Fold cream into cheese mixture. Combine the Kahlua, amaretto and coffee.
Layer half of trifle sponge/ladyfingers on a dish and use a spoon to soak the sponge with half of the coffee mixture. Put half of the cream and cheese mixture on top. Layer the other sponge and soak with coffee mixture. Layer the rest of the cheese mixture on top. Dust with cocoa powder and garnish with toasted almonds.
Tip: Cups are American cups.
Making focaccia in one bowl
Rosemary and sea salt focaccia
400 ml warm water
15 grams fine salt
21 g (3 x 7g packet) dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
600 g strong white bread flour
150 ml Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt flakes
Optional: Rosemary, olives (halved), and/or sundried tomato pieces
Directions: In a large bowl add salt and warm water. Then add sugar and 40 ml olive oil. Mix in 300g flour until soft paste forms. Mix in yeast for about 2 minutes then mix in remaining 300g flour. On a floured surface, knead the dough until uniform. It will be soft and sticky. Put 50 ml olive oil on large baking tray. Leave dough on oil to rise for 30 minutes. Brush top of dough with olive oil and spread dough evenly in baking tray. Let rise in oven at 30C for one hour. Remove from oven, brush with more oil and sprinkle with salt crystals. Using 3 fingers, punch dimples into the dough across the while surface. Return to oven at 30C for 30 minutes. Remove, add more oil and any other toppings. Spray or sprinkle with a little bit of water. Return to oven at 30C for 30 minutes. Then increase temperature to 200C and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. This freezes well in pieces. Just briefly toast, bake or microwave to re-heat.
Notes: This is simple and can be made in one bowl, but you do need to have some time on your hands for the rising process.
Store-bought guacamole (or more appropriately named avocado dip) is not a subsitute for the real thing!
There are some pre-made store-bought dips which taste similar to the real thing. Unfortunately the green substance called avocado dip is not one of them. The one in a jar is especially bad, but even the fresh dip usually located next to the hummous in the refrigerated section is not acceptable for the taste buds. Here is an easy recipe which lasts in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.
2-3 large fresh, ready-ripe avocadoes
Juice from 1-2 large limes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 fresh red chili, minced (adjust amount to taste)
handful of coriander leaves (not stems), chopped
1 deseeded and chopped tomato (optional)
salt and peper to taste
Mash avocadoes and add lime juice immediately. Mix in chopped onion, chili and coriander. Add tomato if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.