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Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Being invited to someone’s house for dinner always poses a problem for me. I often wonder, what’s the best thing to bring? Given a choice between bringing the standard wine, flowers or food, I’ll inevitably resort to bringing food. Then there’s the dilemma of what dish to bring. Do I bring an entree or dessert? And God forbid if I bring the same dish that the host is cooking!  Being asked to guest blog is just as nerve wracking. Especially when the one asking has such a beautifully written and photographed blog like Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets.

After much internal debate, I managed to settle on this Frozen Brazo De Mercedes, a very much loved layer cake from the Philippines.  I wanted to make a dish that showcased one of the most unique (and delicious) desserts that the Philippines had to offer.  What to take a guess as to what the layers are made of?  Well, I’m not going to spoil it for you – just head on over to Xiaolu’s blog for the recipe of this Frozen Brazo De Mercedes Cake.  And while you’re there, make sure the check out the rest of her lovely blog!

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

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Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

I think that at some point in time, most of us have openly defied our parents. When I was growing up I had friends who would skip school, or go out with boys their parents banned them from seeing. Some of them take up drinking and go out past their curfews.

Me? My form of rebellion was eating fish balls from the street vendors outside my school.

Because she worried that the stalls were not clean and the food was not sanitary, my Mom explicitly banned all of us from buying any food from the vendors who lined the streets outside the school walls. Every afternoon I would watch as my classmates would spend whatever was left of their daily allowance buying snacks from the vendors. Sometimes they would buy boiled peanuts or green mangoes… but I was always most envious when they’d buy the deep fried fish balls.

The fish balls were served on a barbecue stick and served a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Sometimes, I’d ask my friends for a bite which was always a mistake as it would make me want even more. Finally, one day the little rebel in me decided enough was enough. I decided to sneak out one afternoon with a friend to buy the fish balls. In fact, I bought three sticks and those five minutes it took me to finish eating them, was pure bliss.

When I saw these homemade prawn balls from Indochine Kitchen’s blog, it brought back memories of the days I’d sneak out to buy the fish balls. I had always wondered how to get that crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside texture from these deep fried balls made from seafood (whether it be prawns, fish or squid) and Jun’s recipe was simple enough to try.

Not only did making them take me back to that afternoon I snuck out to eat the forbidden fish balls, but these prawn balls were better – and so incredibly easy to make. In fact, I’ve made these twice already. The first time I made them plain similar to the recipe on Jun’s blog. The second time I added a bit more flavours like coriander, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Both version were definite crowd pleasers, especially with some sweet chili sauce.

Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

Homemade Prawn Balls

Adapted from Indochine Kitchen

  • 500 grams prawn meat, veins removed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk spring (green) onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Oil for frying
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend well.
  2. Take a rounded spoonful of the prawn mixture and shape it into a ball. It helps the shaping if you wet the spoon with cold water.
  3. Heat a wok or pan with oil for frying. When hot enough, gently drop the prawn balls in the oil and fry for around 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper before serving with some sweet chili sauce.

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Sugar cured salmon, spiced avocado, crisp tortilla

Sugar cured salmon, spiced avocado, crisp tortilla

There are New Year’s resolutions I make that I never keep, despite good intentions.  The other day I realized it was already mid January and I still hadn’t gotten around to exercising, or reading my “book of the month”.  Sometimes I think to myself, would it work if I made some Reverse New Year’s Resolutions instead?  I’d love to be able to resolve to (1) Eat as much junk food as I want, (2) Buy as many cookbooks as I can, and (3) Never exercise.

The resolutions I like to make however, are those relating to food.  Those ones I gladly keep.  This year I decided that one of them was to learn how to cure fish.  Curing to me has always been one of those things that only seriously weird and crazy food fanatics make.  It’s right up there with the sausage making and making.  Considering that I have already gone to a sausage making class AND I’ve learned how to make cheese, it was really only about time that I decided to bite the bullet and cure my own salmon.

The recipe I chose was from Dietmar Sawyere’s Table By The River.  Sawyere is executive chef and director of  two-hat restaurant Berowra Waters Inn located on the Hawkesbury river.  If you’re like me and have never had the pleasure of dining in this restaurant – some caution – reading this book will make you want to hop on the next sea plane to get there (my booking is  in mid- Feb!).

There is nothing difficult about curing – the one thing you need though, is patience.  However, if you are new to curing, this recipe is probably the best place to start.  For one, given the size of the fillet used, the curing only takes four hours, much shorter than many recipes I’ve seen that can take up to two days. The curing recipe is only made up of coriander, sea salt, sugar, dill and citrus zest.  The cured salmon is also accompanied with a crisp tortilla (next time, I’ll try using a fried wanton wrapper as well) with some spiced avocado, and topped with salmon roe.  Each bite has the gorgeous sweet-citrusy salmon, the crunch of the tortilla, tang of the avocado and the “pop” of the briny salmon roe.  To me, an epitome of a perfect bite.

Sugar-cured Salmon

Sugar-cured Salmon

Sugar-cured Salmon, Spiced Avocado, Crisp Tortilla

Recipe from Dietmar Sawyere, Table By The River
Sugar-cured Salmon

  • 8 coriander seeds
  • 30 grams (1 oz) salt
  • 30 grams (1 oz) sugar
  • 20 grams (2/3 oz) dill sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, zested, juice reserved
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 30 ml (1 fl oz) lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 grams (14 oz) centre-cut salmon fillet, skin-on, pin boned (I used salmon with the skin off)

Spiced Avocado

  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • 2 tsp shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli, finely diced
  • 20 ml (2/3 fl oz) chicken stock, chilled (I used double cream)
  • Juice of 1 lime (above)
  • sea salt

To complete

  • 2 large soft flour tortillas
  • grapeseed oil for frying
  • sea salt
  • 30 grams salmon roe
  • micro coriander leaves

For the Sugar-cured Salmon

  1. Place the coriander seeds, sea salt and sugar in a mortar and lightly crush with a pestle. Add the dill, lime and lemon zests and spread evenly over the flesh side of the salmon. (Since my fillet was skinned, I rubbed the mix on both sides)
  2. Warp the salmon in clingfilm or aluminium foil and place on a plate with a light weight on top. Leave the weighted salmon in the fridge for 4 hours, then wash the fish under cold running water and dry well with a clean cloth.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the salmon fillet from the skin. Rub the salmon with a little lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and keep tightly wrapped in the fridge until needed.

For the Spiced Avocado

  1. Cut the avocado in half, discard the stone and scoop out the flesh. Place the avocado flesh in a blender along with the shallots, chilli, and chicken stock (or cream, if using). Blend of a puree and correct the seasoning with the lime juice and some sea salt.

To Complete

  1. Cut the tortillas into rectangles and crisp-fry in some grapeseed oil. Remove and season lightly with sea salt. Spoon some avocado puree on top of the warm tortilla and then place a slice of the sugar-cured salmon on the avocado. Garnish with salmon roe and some micro coriander leaves.
Sugar-cured Salmon

Sugar-cured Salmon

Thank you to New Holland for the Review Copy.

Table By The River, Dietmar Sawyere RRP $49.95

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Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

My friends have been known to say that I like to complicate things.    I once complained to my husband that there was too much sun coming into the bedroom window which was waking me up earlier than I wanted.  I thought long and hard about how to fix this and finally I decided that I was going to buy large sheets of black paper and sticky tape and cover the windows to block out the morning sun.  So off I went to buy the supplies and was excited to show my husband my handiwork.

“What are you doing??”  My husband asked when he entered the room.

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Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Very early on Saturday, with my husband still in a deep slumber, I snuck out of bed, put on my thickest pair of socks and tiptoed down to the kitchen.  I held my breath as I passed the guest room, fearing that even my breathing would be loud enough to be heard.   The wagging of the dog’s tails against the wooden walls magnified across the hallway and I tried to calm them down to prevent anyone from waking.

Finally, I got to the kitchen… “I made it!” I thought.  I was finally going to have a few hours in the kitchen all to myself!

Because as you all know, when Mom’s are visiting – you pretty much have to give up whatever rights you have in the kitchen because, when they’re around the kitchen ain’t yours… it’s theirs!

I wanted to make this this Tortilla Espanola (Spanish style Potato Omelette) for a tapas party I was throwing for New Year’s day.  Made with only four very accessible ingredients (eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil), a really good tortilla is guaranteed not only to bring any Spaniard to their knees, it’s also sure to please any guest for a tapas party. It’s also great eaten cold or at room temperature so you can make it in advance for any occasion.

And whatever happened to my covert CIA operation? It pretty much lasted a whole five minutes before I turned around, saw my Mom and heard her ask “Can I help?”

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Queso de Bola Spread

Queso de Bola Spread

Because the holiday season is already so stressful, there are some things that you should never do in December.

Getting married is one of them.

This of course is from first hand experience when eight years ago, three days after Christmas, I said “I do.”  When I got engaged my then fiancé said “pick a date” and there was no doubt in my mind that we would get married around the Christmas holidays.  I had visions of a string quartet playing Christmas carols at the wedding reception, pointsettias hanging around the ballroom and because my Mom was taking care of the catering, I asked for a Holiday themed menu including glazed hams and roast turkeys.

The stress started as early as September when the dressmaker told me that because I wanted a beaded dress, whatever my current weight was then was what my weight had to be at my wedding.  There was no room to put on any holiday weight as this would mean major adjustments to the dress.

It was hard to enjoy engagement parties and holiday get togethers when every time I’d want to stuff myself silly I’d envision a little bubble over my head and inside was the dressmaker shaking his head saying “Tsk… tsk… I told you not to eat so much!”

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Strawberry and Macaron Trifle

Strawberry and Macaron Trifle

If you regularly read my blog (and if you don’t: why not?!?!), you might know that this year I started teaching macaron making at The Essential Ingredient.  It’s been a fantastic and rewarding experience (especially when I get sent pictures of finished macarons from former students) and I look forward to more classes next  year.  One question I get asked frequently is “What macaron book do you recommend?”  I’ve probably bought all the books on macarons ever published.  I have even bought two macaron books written in French (Christophe Felder and Pierre Herme) to learn as much as I can (on a few occassions I have even translated a few recipes).  With the craze of macarons in the year or so, a number of books in English have also been published.  None of them I have been completely happy with.

That is of course until last week, when, by some happy accident (meaning I went to the bookstore without intending to buy anything) I found Jose Marechal’s Secrets of Macarons.

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