Monthly Archives: January 2010

Steamed sticky toffee pudding

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This is the sort of pudding that had me falling in love with British baking traditions: Simple, heart-warming and bursting with flavours. Perfect after a bracing walk round the Wetland Center in Barnes – where I took this reeds picture.

Ingredients list:

3 tbsp of golden syrup (or marmelade)

Self-raising flour 175g

Bicarbonate or baking powder 1 small spoonful

Butter175g

3 large eggs

Demerara sugar 175g

Treacle 1tbsp

(optional : 5 dates soaked in warm water with a drop of vanilla extract or a tbsp of ground ginger)

Sauce :

Golden syrup

Crème fraîche or double cream

Vanilla extract

Butter 1 tbsp

Prepare a pan of boiling water or an electric steamer.

Mix in the food processor: The flour, raising powder, soft butter, whole eggs, sugar and treacle. Scooping out the treacle with a hot spoon, dipped in boiling water, makes it very easy. Add the dates and vanilla or the ginger, if you choose.

Take a ceramic pudding bowl and smear generously with butter. Pour the golden syrup in the bottom. Add the mix. Level with a spoon and cover tightly with foil.

Put in your steamer or in a pan one third full of boiling water for at least two hours- not omitting to check the water level regularly!

Make the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients to a small pan and heating through. Keep an eye on it until it achieves a nice golden toffee colour.

Take the pudding out and serve hot with a scoop of ice-cream – if you must…

Japanese raviolis

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My love affair with Japanese food started when I was a student in Paris, going to Japanese language evening classes after the Sorbonne and popping into Ozu films afterwards with a long-haired philosophy student who shared a love of Spinoza… Then, I learned how to deftly roll out sushis or fry tempura but today I am experimenting with pasta. The very same type of pasta early italian explorers like Marco Polo might have brought back in their luggage !


Ingredients list:
2 tbsp japanese soy sauce
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp of mirin (sweet japanese vinegar)
1 egg
2tbsp sesame oil
Finely shredded cabbage (a big handful)
3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water)
A few shredded spring onions
Minced pork 150 g (optional)
A few drops of oyster sauce
A packet of gyoza wrappers
All of the ingredients can in found in the Japanese Centre in Regent Street, London. This is also where I found a cunning spring onion shredder that I now use all the time and the lovely raviolis press featured in my photo! It makes the whole job so much more enjoyable- but you can press the raviolis by hand with a fork just as easily.

Mix the shredded vegetables, the seasoning and the pork in a bowl then refrigerate for 1/2 hour. You can decide to forget the pork and do a vegetable version as in the photo above.
Take a wrapper and put a little mix in the middle. Wet the edge with a pastry brush then close one half over the other and press to stick between your fingers.
Store them on an oiled plate as you make them. Do not overfill or they won’t look good!
Then put some rapeseed oil in a cast iron pan and drop the raviolis one by one when the oil is hot. Quickly fry both side. When you have a good batch of them in and looking golden, with almost no oil left, pour a small glass of water in the pan, put the lid on and let it stem for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve hot with some stir-fried cabbage and soya shoots and a dash of tamari (japanese sweet soya sauce) or oyster sauce.
This went down particularly well with hungry children tonight – and they did not even notice the vegetable content!

PS. There is an Ozu film festival at the BFI South Bank this week! I’ll try not to miss it…

Chinatown broth with pork dumplings

>Loon Moon Supermarket in Gerrard street


For the broth:

1 tamarind broth cube by Knorr
1 Maggi cube
1 celery stem in chunks
1 carrot chopped in sticks
Small chunk of fresh ginger
1/2 litre of water
1 serving of soaked rice vermicelli
For the dumplings:
Lean pork loin 150g
1 handful of frozen cooked prawns
1 spring onion (shredded)
3 or 4 dry shiitake mushrooms
1 or 2 dry porcini mushrooms
Thai fish sauce
Soya sauce or Tamari
1 tbsp of cumin
1 pinch of chilli powder
1 garlic clove
Chopped coriander to decorate
First soak the dry shiitake and porcinis in boiling water for a few minutes. Put all the dumplings ingredients in a food processor , then take out spoonfuls at a time and roll them into oiled hands to make small dumplings of about 2 cm thickness.
Heat the stock made out of the stock cubes and water, add the celery, carrot and grated ginger. Let to simmer for 10 mn. Check the level of seasoning and add chilli or fish sauce if required. The broth needs to have a nice zing to it and not be bland!
Keeping it at a slow boil, lower the meatballs in with a large spoon, and let them cook for 3 or 4 mn. In a bowl, put the vermicelli and cover with boiling water. Drain them out and add to the broth just before the end. Serve immediately with a scatter of spring onions and a squeeze of lemon, if you wish.

This was a surprisingly quick recipe: the longest task being the gathering of all the different ingredients! I don’t tend to do recipes that demand a long list of shopping BUT for this one I actually enjoyed my trip to Loon Moon supermarket in Soho. I loved looking at stacks of strange packets in exotic colours, all labelled in tantalising and mysterious signs that escaped my understanding! It was like being a child again and having to guess the content of boxes relying on colours and shapes rather than words. I picked some weird and wonderful packets to try out for fun and I let the ingredients dictate the above recipe rather than the other way round! I found it a very liberating way of cooking. This is how you usually have to cook on holiday in a new place, scouring market stalls and discovering new items; the best way to enjoy exotic London flavours! And where would London cooking be without those?!

My homemade bread

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RECIPE FOR THE BAKERS BREAD

500gr of strong flour

15gr of baker’s yeast or 1 packet of dry yeast

350ml of water with a pinch of salt

Pour the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and put in the yeast diluted in a cup of warm water.

Pour the lukewarm water slowly in while mixing with a wooden spoon. Mix well to get a soft but not sticky ball of dough.

Knead the dough on a worktop by rolling it on itself with some tempo! Add flour if it sticks. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling-film or a wet cloth. Leave to rise for one hour in a warm place, or just leave it out for the night.

Knead again for as long as you enjoy it! Let it rise for another half hour, this time snugly fitted into a greased cake tin or a lined baking tray. When it has risen nicely, you can decorate by slashing the surface with scissors or powdering with extra flour. Meanwhile, start the oven at its highest temperature.

Put to bake in a very hot oven for half hour, on the bottom shelf. It is ready when the crust is a deep golden and solid to the touch.

Yesterday evening, I made this into small balls of dough and rolled them in various seeds :linseeds, sesame or oats taste nice- Or you can stuff them with raisins or nuts for breakfast.

Taramosalata: Another dip for tomorrow’s homemade bread!

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Ingredients list:

Smoked cod roe 1 whole or about 200g

1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

Ground breadcrumbs 2 tbsp

Full milk 4 tbsp

Garlic clove 1

Olive oil 1 small glass

Pinch of cumin to serve

Mix the milk and breadcrumbs. Take the fish eggs out of the packaging then if necessary peel the thick darker skin and scrape it with a sharp knife. Put all the ingredients in a blender and slowly add the oil. If the mixture is too liquid, add some breadcrumbs. If it is too liquid, add lemon juice or milk, according to flavour. Mix in a bit of pepper and cumin.

Dust with cumin and serve with toast or pitta bread.

I get my smoked cod roe from Waitrose supermarket: it is sold in a plastic vacuum-sealed pocket in the cold store. You can use fresh cod roe and steam it before use, as I have done before, but you then miss a lot of the nice smoky flavour that you get in the Taramosalata they serve in the sea-side tavernas of Greece… This is so easy and delicious that you will never buy the processed version again!