Monday, 28 April 2008

CCC2: Pasta Broccoli

Cooking to Combat Cancer 2Chris over at Mele Cotte is replaying for the second time his great idea of a blog event to highlight one of the scourge of our age - cancer. To encourage us to cook food that combats this disease.

I don't know if you notice, it seems cancer is spreading to epidemic proportions. Rare it is to find anyone who does not personally know someone who is afflicted with cancer. My husband's family is not stranger to it. An aunt and an uncle in his mother's side died of lung and breast cancers respectively. Then his several aunts and uncles in his father's side also has/had it in various forms. For me, an old high school classmate died of breast cancer at the age of 36 leaving behind 5 young kids whose father had long abandoned the family when he learned of her illness. How heartbreaking is that?

What I can do about it? Not much except maybe support them however I can in prayers, care, and whatever help I can extend. But I think the better way would be to take care of myself and my nearest loved ones in hopefully these would not befall us. One of the obvious thing to do is to eat healthily which this post will help in giving a recipe with several cancer-fighting ingredients.

A blogging friend sent me some of these lovely orecchiette (ear shaped) pasta which she got me from Italy. Thanks Sha! I've never tried these shapes before and quite curious of its texture and quality.


Then I got this recipe in the latest Delicious magazine. Their May edition is an all Italian issue. I had to halve the recipe because there's just too much of it. This recipe I adapted contains broccoli, garlic, and chilli peppers which are touted to be top cancer-combating food. I love the simplicity of this dish which can be had on its own or with other meats.

Pasta Broccoli

Pasta Broccoli

200 g  orecchiette pasta (ear-shaped)
1 big garlic clove - thinly sliced
1 red chilli - deseeded and sliced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 anchovy fillets (bottled or canned)
250 g  broccoli - cut into small florets
  1. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the pack instructions. Drain and set aside. Reserve some of the pasta water.
  3. A few minutes before the pasta is done, gently heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and saute the garlic and chilli. Do not let it burn.
  4. Add the broccoli and cook for about half a minute. Add another 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir to mix.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water and the anchovies. Cook in low heat while stirring frequently until the anchovies dissolve.
    Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to allow the broccoli to cook some more.
  7. Add the last 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix well. Dish up and serve immediately.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Pear-Chocolate Clafoutis

I was hoping to enter this in the Hay Hay It's Donna Day #19 blogging event but it's only now that I read the rules carefully. It turned out that you have to follow a certain recipe using either berries or plums. Darn!

Never mind, I've always wanted to do this pear clafoutis recipe adapted from Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes cookbook. And I've never done clafoutis before I thought this would be a good chance to experience one.

If you don't like your clafoutis a little gooey in the middle then this is not the one for you. The extra liquid from the poached pears ensure that the middle part (at least) of the the cake is a bit wet. I absolutely love the moist, smooth texture of the conference pears with the sticky chocolate cake.

Poached Pears

Pear-Chocolate Clafoutis

*For the poached pears:
6 pears
750 ml  red wine or 3 cups water
110 g  [1/2 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
juice of 1 lemon

*For the batter
110 g  [3/4 cup] self-raising flour
1/8 tsp fine salt
100 g  [1 cup] ground almond
165 g  [3/4 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
2 large egs
1 large egg yolk
175 ml  [2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp] full cream milk
75 g  unsalted or slightly salted butter
100 g  dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
  • To poach pears:
    1. Peel pears but leave the stalks on (it's easier to turn pears around).
    2. Put wine (or water) in a saucepan with the lemon juice and caster sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to boil slowly then lower the heat to a simmer.
    3. Cook/poach the pears the pears in the syrup for 10 minutes. Turn the pears from time to time.
    4. Take the saucepan off the heat and leave the pears in the liquid to cool for about 2 hours.
    5. After cooling, drain the pears and slice them in half lengthwise. Using a small teaspoon or melon baller remove the cores carefully. Cut off the stems if you like.

  • For the batter:
    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
    2. Grease a 13 x 9-inch oval baking pan or two 9-inch baking pans.
    3. Break up the chocolate and melt with the butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Mix well then set aside and cool a little.
    4. Put the flour, almond, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well.
    5. Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and milk together then add to the flour mixture. Blend until smooth.
    6. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture until well combined.
    7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and arrange the poached pears in the batter placing the thin end facing towards the centre of the pan.
    8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The centre of the cake will always be gooey because of the extra liquid in the poached pear so do not be alarmed if a skewer inserted in the middle does not come out clean.
    9. Serve hot or cold with some cream or creme fraiche.

Saturday, 19 April 2008



Pictures of my lone dinner to the restaurant in the Spitalfield Market area called Canteen didn't come to the surface until now. I went there last October when I had a training down in London. Because of my long illness right after that I didn't get a chance to review all the pictures I took until now that I'm generally better.


Canteen is one of the most ideal restaurant for me. I never hid the fact from anyone that when it comes to dining places the environment and ambiance are way down my list of criteria. First and foremost for me is the food (that's what it's all about innit?) secondly is the price - it had to be at least good value for money. So you can just about guess that down to earth places with reasonable prices and great food are my absolute favourites. If the surroundings and cutlery are nice then I would consider that a bonus.

This restaurant is no fancy place but had good settings in a minimalist way. The name was true to its word - it looks like a canteen. Most of the food are standard pub fodder but done in the best way possible. I likened the whole enterprise as like stripping a restaurant naked and exposing and highlighting the fabulous food it offers at prices that would not break the bank - I promise!


I ordered a steak (and ale ?) pie with mash and greens. The mash was the best I've tasted outside of my kitchen. Very buttery, creamy and ultra smooth. And the pie? On the outside the pastry was crisp and the inside was a great thick and flavourful beef stew. Although the filling was quite hot making me regret scoffing a spoonful as soon as I broke into it. I was wondering to myself how they managed to retain the crispiness of the pastry. Maybe they have them ready as baked shells and then fill it, top it then baked to crisp the outside. Hmmm ... food for thought.

Thank god the greens didn't come out cooked to death. It was handled just right making a fine complement to the pie and creamy mash. Oh before I forget, the gravy was delicious enough to bind them all together to give me a very satisfying meal.


Now I couldn't remember exactly the ice cream I had for dessert. I think it was raspberry one with a pistachio biscotti sticking like a tower on the side. But I could distinctly remember that the fruit flavour was vivid in a starring-role style not like some insipid ice cream whose intended flavours barely registered in your tongue. And did I say it was as creamy as a premium Italian gelato?

Well, what else can I say? It's obvious that I enjoyed my food in Canteen and will be definitely be back with a vengeance if I'm in the vicinity. I just hope they keep up the quality of their offerings and hope they won't get diluted once they start branching out. Please Canteen promise me you won't be another Wagamama ...

2 Crispin Place
London    E1 6DW

Tel. No.: 0845 686 1122