Sunday, 30 April 2006

IMBB 25: Taramasalata

Don't you notice my last 3 posts were all for food blogging events? Just goes to show how involved I am offline with things such as moving and buying a car, etc.

Well then, let's get down to business. I was gifted immensely by a good friend in Greece with loads, and I mean loads, of food stuffs that she made her sister carry on the latter's way back here in London. Thanks Sha! *mwah* One of the wonderful things she gave me was this big block of fresh salted fish roe called 'tarama' in Greek. As expected, I immediately set out to make some taramasalata - the Greek fish roe dip or salad dressing greatly enjoyed here and one of mine and my husband's favourites.

Derrick's theme in the current IMBB edition says to use stale bread. Mine used nearly new bread but I'm sure using not-so-new ones is okay. I was thoroughly fascinated with the making of this delightful dip which is very much akin to making mayonnaise though sans the eggs. Which also reminds me to grab a food processor in the next sale because holding a handheld mixer on one hand and slowly dripping olive oil in the other is no fun at all. Definitely not. :( What's more fascinating for me is how long this dip stayed unspoiled in the fridge with no loss in taste until nearly a month! The recipe I adapted is from another friend, Stel, who in turn adapted it from Craig Clairborne.



1/4 cup fresh salted fish roe
3 crustless white bread
1/2 cup olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Soak the bread slices briefly in warm water and then squeeze dry. Set aside the water.
  2. Combine the bread and fish roe in a bowl and with a handheld mixer beat the mixture for a few seconds until completely combined (or use a food processor).
  3. While the mixer is still running, add the olive oil slowly in a thin stream.
  4. When all the olive oil is incorporated, add the lemon juice little by little also.
  5. The resulting consistency should be that of thick mayonnaise. If it is too thick to your liking, add some of the reserved soaking water until you get the viscosity that you want.

I can't finish this post without shamelessly bragging about what I got from Sha. Just look at that spread above. And to think that I just requested for some halva (see below). You know me, a thorough nut lover. All the labels were Greek to me - figuratively and literally. So I let my smell and taste be my guide. My husband loved all the different olives and both of us enjoying the varied flavours of teas, the sweets they were long gone (I love the gum mastic flavoured ones; now I know what they use to make Turkish delights and the wafers in some reminded me of the communion wafers in church), the other items like mushroom orzo, various canned and bottled goodies, etc. - I will try to make the savouring of them last as long as possible. :) Thanks very very much Sha. :)

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

LP 9: Lengua Estofado

Lengua Estofado
I know Cia encouraged us to make something different out of innards and offal. But I'm pretty helpless on this since I really do not cook offals that often. So you would have to forgive me if I make this thoroughly standard fiesta dish. Cia, as mentioned, of Pabulum is currently hosting the 9th edition of Lasang Pinoy.

I had a lot of fun making this I must say. Starting with shopping for the tongue. Now I wouldn't find this in any ol' supermarket around here so off I went to Tooting (no kidding!) which has a very lively (and cheap) market. (I must blog about this place soon). Lots of fresh veggies and fruits plus this is where I get my fix on pork legs (properly cut), goat meat, whole baby back ribs, fresh chicken liver galore, and supermarket-rare offals - all in very reasonable prices. I went in a butcher shop and got this big boy of a tongue.

Lengua Estofado

It was more than 14 inches long and ... well ... resembles something like ... oh never mind. Hehehe! Finding a big pot to fit it in was a challenge but I managed to unearth one of my moth-balling-seldom-used stock pots and just about fit it in. The removal of the skin was a joy - not! Reynaldo Alejandro's recipe from The Food of the Philippines (where I adapted this from) said to scrape or peel. Well I scraped and scraped and scraped but most of the white film is still there. So I had to slice it off trying to take off as little and as thinly as possible. After a prolonged struggle with a double dead tongue I finally got it all off! Hurray, on to the cooking!

The marinade was quite good, though, I noticed that you can substitute cooking wine or lemon for the vinegars. I bet it would taste great as well. The only problem I had was in the browning of the meat since the marinade has sugar hence the residue got burned. I had to wash up the pot pronto before continuing with the sauteing. I know I lost some good flavours with all those drippings washed away but it was burned and I don't want that to ruin the sauce. Other than that everything else was surprisingly a breeze. And I originally thought it would be horrific including the taste and texture of the meat. The first time I had this was when I was 12 years old and even then, even though I had a pretty fussy tastebud I loved that properly tenderly cooked lengua from a relative's wedding banquet. Finally, I was able to recreate it.

Lengua Estofado

1.5 kg  beef tongue

1 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp cider vinegar or white cooking wine
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup water

3 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
350 g  potatoes - peeled, quartered and sliced
1 big carrot - peeled and sliced
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives
1 cup button mushrooms - halved or sliced
  1. Boil the tongue in a large pot of water for 20 minutes. (You may cut the tongue in half if it cannot fit). Drain from water and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Peel off the (usually white) outer skin. You may have to use a very sharp carving knife for this. Trim ends and wash.
  3. Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate the tongue for 1 hour or overnight.
  4. In a large pot heat the oil and brown the tongue on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  5. If the residue in the pot is not burned, use it with the same oil, if it is then clean the pot and heat it up again with about 2 Tbsp oil.
  6. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes in gentle heat - *do not* burn it.
  7. Turn up the heat and add in the onion, cook for about 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
  8. Add in the tomatoes and cook until soft.
  9. Put the tongue back in the pot together with the marinade.
  10. Add about 1/2 cup water. Bring back to boil and then simmer for 2.5 hours or until tender. Prick the tongue to let the liquid penetrate. You may add more boiling water a little at a time if it is drying out too much.
  11. Tip in the potatoes and carrots - cook for about 5 minutes.
  12. Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
  13. Just before serving, remove tongue from sauce and slice crosswise. Arrange in a platter and ladle sauce and vegetables on top. Serve hot.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

What's For Pud? Bakewell Tart !

Bakewell Tart
St. George's Day is celebrated every 23rd of April in England where Georgie boy is the patron saint. Why he was made one? A legend had it that he skewered a large lizard. I don't know if he barbecued it with sauce on the side. Obviously, it's not as widely celebrated as St. Patrick's Day of Ireland. In fact, a lot of people hardly remember or know when it is or whether to celebrate it at all. Besides a few English flags in pubs you could hardly see much evidence of the event. Although in my former company our CEO was a diehard Englishman that we were 'gently' coerced to wear red and whites on the day and our offices decorated with red and white flags and buntings.

Sam of Becks & Posh sought to redress the problem by teaming up with Monkey Gland of Jam Faced to host a one-time blog event of What's For Pud? Traditional British food is not renowned for its popularity or sophistication but the puddings (desserts, puds, afters) are something else. My own personal favourite is the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Among the store bought ones, Marks & Spencers comes up trumps in my book. Really really delish and so satisfying. I wanted it to be my entry but I wasn't sure if it's English or where exactly it originated. Then I pondered on Sussex Pond but I don't want to go steaming for 3 hours! So to be safe I chose another favourite that I am sure is from England.

As the name suggests, Bakewell Tart originally came from Bakewell, Derbyshire - that's Mr. Darcy's home county mind you. I've visited that town a decade ago, too long ago that I could hardly remember what it looked like except that it's near that beautiful pile of a house called Chatsworth. I tried to delay posting this with a plan to visit the Peak District and Bakewell a week ago during the school term break so I could have some really attractive pictures of the town. But the family car died and we couldn't make the 4-hour drive. Such a shame. :(

The tart was originally known in the form of Bakewell Pudding which according to legend has been in existence as far back as the 1500s. The more recent history of it tells of a mistake (like the Tarte Tatin) in the kitchen of the White Horse coaching inn when an inexperienced cook mistook the instructions for a strawberry tart. Instead of putting the egg and sugar in the pastry, it was poured on top of the jam which was on an obviously plainer crust thus accidentally creating this delightful dessert (or tea fodder depending on your inclination).

Anyhow, the tart is a thin layer of raspberry or strawberry jam on a shortcrust pastry with almond cake on the next layer then topped with icing. I really do not fancy the icing, in fact whenever I eat a shop-bought one I scrape it off completely so I just omitted it this time so as not to prolong the start of my enjoyment of it.

Just look at that nice sliver of tart above, a lovely meld of the raspberry jam and almond based cake. The addition of orange and lemon zests was a brilliant idea of Brian Turner from whose book, Favourite British Recipes, I adapted my lovey-dovey delish tart.

All puffed up just out of the oven.

Bakewell Tart

175 g  [heaping 1 1/3 cup] plain flour
pinch of salt
25 g  [5 tsp] caster sugar
finely grated zest of orange and lemon (optional)
80 g  [1/3 cup] cold unsalted butter
2-3 Tbsp cold water

100 g  [5 Tbsp] raspberry or strawberry jam
3 eggs
115 g  [1/2 cup] caster sugar
115 g  [scant 1/2 cup] unsalted butter - melted
115 g  [1 cup + 2 Tbsp] ground almonds
25 g  icing sugar, mixed with a little water (optional)
  • For the pastry:
    1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, orange and lemon zests in a bowl.
    2. Cut in the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with two butter knives until breadcrumb-like in texture.
    3. Sprinkle the cold water while tossing the mixture until it can be gathered into a ball. Press and knead a little to keep it together. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
    4. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
    5. Roll out and line a 25cm (10-inch) tart pan. Crimp the edges.
    6. Warm the jam. (Optional) Press into a sieve to remove seeds. Spread over the base of the tart.

  • For the filling:
    1. Beat the eggs with the sugar.
    2. Fold in the melted butter and ground almond slowly.
    3. Pour carefully on the pastry-lined tart pan.
    4. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. Remove and cool completely.
    5. (Optional) Pour the icing in the centre of the tart and using a palette knife spread as thinly as possible.

Tagged with: and

Saturday, 22 April 2006

SHF 18: Red Wine Tart

Red Wine Tart
First thing that came to my mind for the current SHF 18 are one of those liquour-laced cakes or desserts. But I thought why put a puny little amount when you can have it as a main ingredient. Thanks to a recipe I found in Anne Willan's fabulous book, A Kitchen in Burgundy, I was able to do a certainly interesting dessert.

As usual I made some blunder. Instructions clearly said to bake blind but my eyes were wide open when I did - I forgot the baking beans! So the pastry was too puffed up to my liking but no matter it still did the job. In fact, it was a very nice butter biscuit/cookie base so good that I balled up the excess and baked into cookies.

As for the filling, it didn't quite looked like the sea-of-tranquility smooth as that in Anne's book's picture. More like the Pink Floyd-y dark-side-of-the-moon pockmarked. But I was more surprised by the taste. I was preparing to dislike it or just have a passable 'okay' kind of flavour. However, it was only a little alcoholic, mildly bitter, and had an unexpected grape-y flavour (well *duh* wine is made from grapes for pete's sake!). I used (well actually used up left-overs) Merlot wine although Anne suggested to use Pinot Noir for a more fruity flavour. I have to say this is a keeper of a recipe although I definitely have to fiddle with the sugar in the pastry probably change it to caster sugar maybe even to icing sugar to remove the grittiness. And most of all to remember those blasted baking beans!

Red Wine Tart

*Sweet Pastry (Pate Sucree)
175 g  [1 1/2 cup] plain flour
100 g  [7 Tbsp] butter - softened
3 egg yolks
100 g  [scant 1/2 cup] caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp ground cinammon
2 eggs
100 g  [1/2 cup] sugar
250 ml  [1 cup] red wine

1/2 cup double cream for decoration
  • For the pastry:
    1. Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter or with 2 butter knives. Rub butter in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
    2. Combine egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture to the butter-flour mixture and gather the dough into a ball.
    3. Knead and press dough between your hands just enough to hold it together. Do not over knead.
    4. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C/fan 170°C.
    5. Roll out into an 11-inch circle. Line and press into a 23cm [9-inch] fluted tart pan. Prick base with fork.
    6. Put an aluminium foil (shiny side down) on the pan and fill this with dry or ceramic beans.
    7. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool.

  • For the filling:
    1. Combine cornstarch and cinammon and mix well.
    2. Whisk egg gently in a bowl and add the cornstarch mixture. Keep froth to minimum.
    3. Stir in the wine gently.

  • Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Put this on the oven shelf and while it's partially pulled out gently pour the filling in the pan. Push it gently in the oven.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes in 375°F/190°C/fan 170°C.
  • Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Unmold. Cool completely.
  • Before serving whip double cream until stiff peaks. Pipe on the edge of pie with a star tip.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Fish Cakes

Fish Cake
I've always followed closely a number of regular columns in the BBC Good Food magazine. One of them is the 'Ultimate' series currently done by Angela Nilsen. Wherein she attempts to find or develop the ultimate the best recipe for our favourite dishes and desserts. That actually, is my objective, too. Sometimes I go to all sort of lengths to source out the ingredients or required cooking utensils just so I could do my 'ultimate' creation. This just underlines my keen interest in this column.

For this month's edition, she makes fish cakes. I love fish but often than not the fish cakes I find in the fish & chips around here or even in restaurants are chock-full of fillings and very little fish. A name change to 'fish-flavoured cakes' should be done to aptly describe them. Hence, I was heartened to discover Angela's recipe to be more fish and less fillings. I could clearly see whole flakes in it with just enough of the potatoes to keep it together. I also love the tartare-style sauce she made. Even my sauce-finicky husband roundly approved!

Fish Cakes

450 g  skinned fillet of white fish (haddock, cod, etc.)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
2 bay leaves
350 g  floury potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edward, etc.) - peeled and quartered
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 egg
85 g  white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup oil for frying

*Tartare-style Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp capers - rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp creamed horseradish
1 shallot - finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Mix all ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Put the fillet of fish in a pan. Add the bay leaves, milk and water. Cover, bring to boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes to finish cooking the fish. Drain the fish from the pan and cool completely on a plate.
  3. Put potatoes in a saucepan with just enough boiling water to cover them. Bring back to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked but not broken up. Drain in a colander for one minute and then bring the potatoes back to the hot saucepan on the lowest heat. Let them dry out for 1 minute and mash the potatoes in the saucepan. This will result in a dry and fluffy mash. Take off the heat and mix in 1 Tbsp of the tartare-style sauce, lemon zest, chives, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Flake the fish in big chunks into the mashed potatoes. Mix a few times just enough to combine them. Set aside.
  5. Beat egg in a shallow bowl. Put the breadcrumbs in a plate.
  6. Divide the potato mixture into 4 or 5. With floured hands, shape each piece into a ball then flatten them to form small cakes.
  7. Sit the cakes one by one in the egg bowl and spoon over egg to coat completely. Then sit the cakes in the breadcrumbs and pat sides and top to cover completely. Transfer on a plate, cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  8. Heat oil in a pan. Drop a little dry breadcrumbs in it, if it sizzles it is ready. Fry the fish cakes on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.
  9. Serve with the sauce and and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

A Foodbloggers Meme Around The World

The talented Dilek of Dilekce, one of the non-English foodblogs I regularly read (well actually just drool at pictures since I don't have a clue on what the text is all about), has tagged me for a meme. Let me have a go at these questions ...

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try.

Like Dilek, I also have a long wish list but here's an excerp:
  • Choco-mocca Liquer - by the Passionate Cook. Once I get those resealable bottles I'll make a big batch and force my friends to take one each.
  • Creme Brulee - from Keiko of Nordljus. I know this is pretty basic but I've never done one and I think using one of those torch thing is quite cool.
  • Kangkong Blachan - from Reid's Onokinegrindz and Stellie's Babyrambutan. Several times I have assembled the ingredients for this but somehow I never get to cook it.

2. A foodblog in your vicinity

As far as I know, the nearest one to me is Johanna of the Passionate Cook.

3. A foodblog located far from you

Probably one of the farthest would be someone like Clare of Eatstuff. I've visited and enjoyed her food blog from time to time when I get the chance to bloghop.

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?)

I actually met Monkey Gland at that EB with Sam of Becks&Posh when she came to town. But I have to admit I only got to read his blog Jam Faced recently and I think I'm hooked. Him and Sam are co-hosting the one-off food blogging event of What's For Pud?

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

I hope these people hasn't been tagged yet: Sha-sha who's somewhere in the Mediterranean right now, Jmom in North Carolina, and Boo_licious in Malaysia.

Friday, 7 April 2006

Spinach With Fried Garlic

Spinach with Fried Garlic
Here's one recipe that I adapted from Ken Hom's Hot Wok that I use when I have excess spinach from the usual sinigang. The other stir-fry spinach recipe that I blogged here also have garlic although it's not as fried crisp as these. I love the crunch of the garlic in contrast with the soft spinach besides the utter simplicity of the cooking and the ingredients themselves.

Spinach with Fried Garlic

750 g  fresh spinach - washed and drained well
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp thinly sliced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
pinch of sugar
  1. Heat oil gently in a wok. Add in the salt and garlic. Fry on low heat until garlic is golden and crisp.
  2. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat the oil again this time on high heat until it is smoking.
  4. Tip in the spinach and stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add a pinch of sugar. Stir-fry for a further 3-4 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  6. Remove and dish up. Scatter fried garlic on top. Serve immediately.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake
I adapted this loosely on Delia Smith's recipe in her How To Cook Book 1. This is probably my third try on the recipe with lots of changes from the original. For one, I reduced the baking time and temperature because at 190C for 1.25 hours it practically reduced the top to cinders. Then the sugar in the cake is increased to improve the blandness. I felt there was too much baking powder so that got reduced and I will try to reduce more of it in my next tries. Despite these, you can see it did come out quite well. A very nice tea-time treat to have with a hot cuppa of tea (coffee for some).

Spiced Apple Cake

350 g  peeled and chopped baking apples (Golden Delicious/Bramley/Braeburn/Cox)
275 g  [2 cups] plain flour
110 g  [scant 1/2 cup] butter - melted
2 eggs - slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/2 whole nutmeg - finely grated (about 1 tsp)
170 g  [3/4 cup] caster sugar
175 ml  [scant 2/3 cup] milk

75 g  [1/3 cup] demerara sugar
75 g  [heaping 1/2 cup] self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25 g  [2 Tbsp] butter - softened
50 g  pecans or walnuts - roughly chopped
1 Tbsp cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease the bottom of a 23 cm (9-inch) springform round cake pan.
  2. Mix the topping - combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a small bowl. Cut in the soft butter with two butter knives into the mixture. Then proceed to rub in it with your fingertips. Add in the nuts - mix well. Sprinkle the cold water and toss. Set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.
  4. Put the eggs in a big bowl. Add in the milk, sugar, and melted butter.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a wooden spoon in as few stokes as possible just enough to combine.
  6. Fold in the chopped apples.
  7. Pour into the greased cake pan.
  8. Sprinkle the topping on the surface of the batter.
  9. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Cool for about 5 minutes, turn out from the pan then cool completely.