Category Archives: Recipes
Rosemary Infused Chocolate Mendiants
Like most people, when it comes to cooking with herbs, I generally stick to the tried and true. A bit of mint with spring peas or scattered over buttered new potatoes, a dash of dill over fish, and roast lamb wouldn’t be the same without a generous bunch of rosemary.
But lately, I’ve been playing with these herbs in sweet treats too; chamomile custard tarts, minty ice cream, and chocolate Mendiants, infused with hint of voluptuous rosemary will pique the tastebuds with intrigue.
Mendiants are a traditional French confection; chocolate disks which are studded with dried fruits and nuts representing the 4 monastic orders.
Try these little gems this holiday season to offer your guests at gatherings, or make them as lovely edible gifts. Happy holidays!
You Will Need
100g of Mild Flavour Dark Chocolate
5 Sprigs of Rosemary Plus 1 Extra for Decoration
Toasted Pine nuts – approx 24
1 Sheet Edible Silver (optional)
Begin by toasting the pine nuts in a moderate oven for 2-3 minutes until just golden.
Put a small amount of water into a Bain Marie (or small saucepan with a tight-fitting bowl), place it over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, place 2/3 in the bowl and gently melt. Take five rosemary sprigs, use the back of a wooden spoon to lightly bruise and put the sprigs into the melted chocolate. Infuse for 2-3 minutes before removing the Bain Marie from the heat.
Press the rosemary into the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much of the chocolate as possible. You can then discard the rosemary. Add the rest of the chocolate, stirring gently as it begins to melt, then leave it to cool for a minute or two.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface, drop a teaspoon full of chocolate for each disk onto the paper leaving a 3-4 cm space in-between. Decorate with rosemary leaves, pine nuts and small pieces of edible silver, and allow them to cool for about 20 minutes. I usually pop mine in the fridge for a few minutes, which gives the mendiants a little snap when you bite into them.
100g chocolate makes 10-12 Mendiants.
Another chocolate recipe you might also like to try.
An Asian inspired Salad
with a Wasabi Mirin Dressing
This sumptuous salad has been a favourite in my home with family and friends this summer. It is light and exotically fruity with a hint of spice from the threads of Julienne ginger intertwined among fresh herbs and cooling cucumber. I serve this salad with grilled Ahi tuna gently marinated in sesame oil and Chinese five-spice, grilled limes, wasabi mayonnaise, and perhaps jasmine rice. Hope you enjoy it too!
You will need
For the Salad
a generous handful each of fresh coriander leaves, mint leaves and Thai basil leaves
1 mini cucumber
1 green onion
1/2 ripe but fairly firm mango
1 heap tbs of peanuts
For the Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Wasabi paste
First, mix all of the dressing ingredients together thoroughly and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse. Take the coriander, mint and Thai basil and gently pull the leaves from the stems and roughly chop. Now the onion. Cut into thirds then cut lengthways into thin Julienne strips. Thinly slice the cucumber and a long piece of ginger, a mandible works best for this, then slice the ginger into Julienne strips. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the mango and cut the flesh into thin slices. Arrange the salad ingredients on serving plates, spoon the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
This was a meal I had when I first arrived on the Zanzibar archipelago. And although it is quite a simple dish, it was a very welcoming lunch after a long flight from Germany. You could call this dish a Tanzanian version of egg and chips; but eating this while looking out across white sandy beaches and crystal blue seas under glorious sunshine, gives these rudimentary ingredients a different character altogether.
This dish is very popular all over Zanzibar, and indeed mainland Tanzania. Eggs and fried potatoes are the base ingredients, but occasionally finely chopped red peppers and onions are added for a bit of variety.
For my version, I’m substituting the usual yellow potatoes with sweet potatoes, and garnish with fresh coriander and Thai basil, herbs which are used in abundance across the islands in a variety of dishes. The use of these delicious herbs teases out the sweetness of the potatoes, and also adds a hint of complexity to the flavour.
Although its a very simple dish, I’m sure you will find it incredibly satisfying and, of course, it’s really easy to make.
You will need
1 medium sweet potato
4 large eggs
2 spring onions
a handful each of Thai basil & fresh coriander leaves
2 tbs sunflower oil
black pepper & sea salt to season
Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees celsius.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into thin chips. Place in a bowl of cold salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat the chips dry with paper towel, place them evenly on a baking tray, and brush with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When they are done, set aside and pre-heat your grill or broiler.
Chop the spring onions, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork. Take a few basil and coriander leaves, roughly chop and fold into the eggs. In a heavy based frying pan (20 inches in diameter or so) add the remaining oil, and over a med-high heat fry the spring onions until tender but don’t brown. Add the sweet potato chips to the pan in a single layer, then pour over the eggs leaving it to settle. When the eggs start to set around the outside of the pan, place it under the grill for just a minute or two.
Garnish with the remainder of the herbs, and serve with a chopped salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and drizzle with a little oil and a squeeze of lime juice.
I’m not sure whether or not this recipe can technically be called Ladoo–Indian sweet snacks made from dried fruit, nuts or Gram flour–as the method I’m using doesn’t involve cooking with condensed milk or ghee.
Instead, I’m using orange juice to bind the ingredients together, and a splash of Cointreau to give these snacks a bit of boozy zing. Simply omit the Cointreau if you are making them for children, it takes nothing away from the deliciously zesty, marzipan flavours. They also make quick and easy edible gifts for the holidays.
You Will Need
150g Almond Meal
5 tsp Fine White Sugar
3 tsp Cointreau
1 Small Orange – Juice & Zest
4 tbs Desiccated Coconut
2 tbs Confectioners/Icing Sugar
Put the almond meal, white sugar and zest of half the orange in a bowl and mix well. Next, add the Cointreau and a tablespoon of the orange juice and combine. Add another tablespoon of orange juice and start forming into a ball. If you need to add a little more juice do so slowly adding a little at a time, so as not to make the mixture too wet.
Spread the desiccated coconut and confectioners/icing sugar onto a plate (leave a little extra for dusting). Take a tablespoon of the Ladoo mixture, squeeze together to form a paste, then roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Roll the ball around in the coconut covering completely. Repeat the process until you have 10-12 Ladoo. Dust with a little extra confectioners sugar just before serving.
Simply double-up on all of the ingredients to make more. The Ladoo will keep in the fridge, covered, for about a week.
Here’s a seasonal punch recipe you might also enjoy.
Creamy Chestnut Soup with Mushroom Croutons & Fried Sage Leaves
Although I’ve been living here in Hamburg for a couple of years now, I find that I rarely cook German recipes.
German cuisine, much like British, gets a pretty bad rap. And that’s a real shame, because there is a tantalising selection of traditional German dishes just itching to be discovered: Labskaus, Spätzle, Veal Schnitzel, and, of course, Sauerkraut, whose health benefits are equal to that of the popular Kimchi, are better known German foods, and are as tasty as any of the more popular cuisines.
Chestnuts are also included in traditional German cooking. Often foraged during the cooler months, these versatile brown gems – which were introduced into Germany by the Romans along with grapes and asparagus – are an integral part of traditional German home cooking, Hausmanskost. Roasted as a snack in winter, served with Brussels sprouts or braised red cabbage, made into jams, ground into flour for baking (try my Chestnut flour Walnut bread) and, added to stews and soups.
This is my interpretation of the traditional German chestnut soup. It’s comforting and incredibly simple to make. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken, and you will create an equally delicious vegetarian version. Guten Appetit!
You Will Need
1 Can Chestnuts Drained – 280g or there about
1 Celery Stick – Chopped
1 Shallot – Chopped
2 Portobello Mushrooms – Chopped, half for the soup, half for croutons
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed – 1 for soup, 1 for croutons
12 Sage Leaves – 4 Chopped for the Soup, the remainder left whole for frying
300ml Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 tsp – Celery Salt
1/2 tsp – Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp – Ground Nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
100ml Cooking Cream
Heat a large heavy based pan over a med-high heat, then add a generous glug of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot, celery and 1 crushed clove of garlic to the pan, cook until softened but not browned. Add half of the chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more before adding the chopped sage leaves, nutmeg, celery salt and pepper. Add the chestnuts and combine them with the other ingredients and cook for a few minutes more. Next add the broth, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes to allow all of the flavours to infuse. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and set aside to cool for a minute or two, before blending thoroughly with a stick blender.
Put 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil into a heated frying pan, add the remainder of the garlic and mushrooms, and fry over a highish heat until the mushrooms are dark golden brown and slightly crispy. Set aside.
Pop a clean pan over a high heat, add a generous amount of olive oil, when the oil is hot fry the sage leaves. This will only take a minute or two.
Ladle the soup into four individual bowls, and carefully spoon on the mushroom croutons. Serve with the fried sage leaves and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg.
This past summer has been long, hot and extremely humid here in Hamburg. So much so, that I have found myself brooding for cooler evenings and the chorus of rich autumn colours that beckon cosy and comforting food. Which brings me to this recipe.
Whilst browsing the food stalls of Budapest‘s great market hall – Nagyvásárcsarnok – the oldest and largest market in the city, I came across this savoury strudel nestled among the more well known sweet strudel flavours of apple and sour cherry. I know a savoury cabbage strudel doesn’t immediately look or sound as appealing as the sweet varieties, but surprisingly it tastes really good.
Strudel has a long history in Hungary dating back, it is believed, to the Habsburg empire. The traditional filo-like dough used for strudel has a high gluten content which gives it enough stretch to allow it to be rolled out super thin, a technique borrowed by the Turks.
There are numerous filling options for strudel; from meat to plum to Quark (German for cream) to hazelnuts and poppy seeds. And here is my interpretation of one of Hungary’s best-known foods. Instead of filo pastry, I’m using shortcrust pastry ready bought for ease. And, although it’s not necessarily associated with one season or another, as far as I’m aware, it seems to fit the autumn menu quite nicely. Jó étvágyat!
You Will Need
Savoy Cabbage Finely Shredded 400g
Medium Onion finely chopped
1 Sheet Shortcrust or Puff Pastry
Caraway Seeds 1tsp
White Pepper 1-2 pinch
Hungarian Sweet Paprika 1 pinch
Salt for season
Butter 50g approx.
Pre heat oven to 160 Degrees Celsius.
Finely shred the cabbage removing any firmer pieces and place in a pan of salted water. Par boil until just tender, but don’t over cook. Drain in a colander removing as much water as possible and set aside. Place most of the butter in a large non stick frying pan (put a little aside to glaze the pastry), add the onion, paprika, caraway seeds and a pinch or 2 of white pepper according to your taste. Saute over a low-medium heat for a minute or 2 before adding the shredded cabbage. Thoroughly combine the ingredients, cook until the cabbage is tender then set aside to cool a little.
Gentling melt the remainder of the butter, lay the pastry out on baking paper and brush around the edges with melted butter. Put the cabbage mix on the first 1/3 of the pastry, and using the baking paper to assist, roll away from you ensuring the strudel is evenly rolled. Cut away any excess pastry. Place the baking paper and strudel on a baking tray, brush all over with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. After baking allow the strudel to cool little. Cut in to thickish slices and serve with sour cream.
The unusually hot weather has brought with it an abundance of flowers and foliage already this year, so a bit of foraging seemed like a very pleasurable thing to do to make use of this bounty. Elderflowers are one of my favourite foods for ‘wild’ cooking, and as the season seems to be drawing to an end, this week may be the last chance to make use of the delicious blooms. This is another simple and tasting recipe that is quick to prepare and makes a lovely snack or dessert.
You will need
20 Elderflower Blossoms
1 Cup Rice Flour plus extra
2 Cup Sunflower Oil
1 Cup Ice water
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar for dusting (Optional)
Trim away the leaves, leaving a short stem on each flower head, then bathe the flowers in cold water to remove any bugs. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before frying.
Pop the extra flour into a bowl, you will need this to coat the flowers before dipping them into the batter. In a large bowl add the cup of flour, egg, baking powder, salt and combine with a balloon whisk. Then slowly add the ice water making sure the batter has no lumps.
Heat the oil until it is nice and hot (about 190 degrees). Take a flower head, coat in flour and then dip into the batter gently shaking off the excess. Drop into the hot oil and fry for a minute or two until lightly golden. Place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil and repeat with the rest of the flowers.
Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar and cream.
I still remember the feeling of absolute awe when I first arrived in Morocco. And in spite of its flourishing tourist trade, Morocco still holds a sense of mystic and seductive allure. Hearing the early morning call to prayer, watching the celebrations as pilgrims return from Mecca. The fields of mint and coriander, emerald coloured oases and stunning casbahs conjure images of old Arabian tales and epic movies.
We stayed at a nomadic camp in the Sahara. Our host an older gentleman, who wore his life on his weathered yet pleasant face, his voice deep brown and gravely, welcomed us like old friends. At dinner, we were served the most delicious tagines and salads, all vibrantly coloured like platefuls of jewels.
The colourful food of the Arabian lands is among my favourite world cuisines. This Moroccan inspired recipe is fresh and light and so simple to make. It’s equally delicious as a sweet dessert or as a side to savoury dishes – a slow cooked lamb tagine perhaps!
Serve with the syrup for a dessert or a dusting of ground cinnamon as a side dish.
You will need
For the salad
3 Medium Size Oranges
3 Medium Size Blood Oranges
1 Extra Orange for the Juice
Seeds from 1/2 Pomegranate
6 Fresh Mint Leaves
Ground Cinnamon (Optional)
For the Syrup
2 Tbsp of Orange Blossom Water
200g Light Cane Sugar
3 Tbsp Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
250 ml Water
To make the syrup, pop the water and sugar into a medium pan. Simmer over med-high heat, continually stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to thicken. This will take about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the orange blossom water and orange juice, continue to simmer until you get a thick, viscose syrup. Remove from the heat, place a lid on the pan and set aside to allow it to cool and the flavours to infuse.
Peel the 3 oranges and 3 blood oranges for the salad, removing the white pith. With a sharp knife cut the oranges into thin slices, but not too thin. Arrange slices on a serving plate alternating orange and red. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves and spoon over the syrup. Alternatively, put about a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a fine mesh sieve, and lightly dust over the fruit.
Serve with cream or natural greek-style yoghurt.
One of the many pleasures of travelling to a country or city is experiencing new flavours and new aromas, and every place seems to have something that’s uniquely theirs. Although I often buy souvenirs when visiting somewhere for the first time, nothing reminds me of a favourite destination more than the taste of a dish I first tried there. So, when I recreate those favourite dishes at home, I’m immediately transported back to those places, those tastes and those memories.
During my recent visit to Porto, I come across this very simple but very delicious sweet squash dessert, Doce de Abobora, a compote-like dessert native to Portugal. The original recipe is quite sweet and jammy, consisting of pumpkin and sugar, with the occasional addition of spices and coconut. My version of this recipe uses less sugar, but more of the flavours that remind me of this beautiful city and country.
Porto was built on Port wine, not literally of course, but the city did thrive because of the success of the industry. So I think it would be criminal not to add a splash of Port to this dessert. I’ve also added toasted almonds for crunch and texture, and the hint of orange zest which gives each mouthful little bursts of sunshine. Served with a dollop of mascarpone cheese, the sweet and slightly savoury flavours create a magical combination. Although the deep orange, sweet squash compote feels a little autumny, it is just as enjoyable during the spring.
You will need
1 small pumpkin or squash – about 800g or so
light brown cane sugar 1 cup – 200g
1/2 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
finely grated zest 1/2 small orange
50ml white port wine
flaked almonds about 40g
Remove the skin and seeds from the squash, and cut into pieces about 2 cm in size but no smaller. Add the squash to a heavy-based pan along with the port and sugar and stir to coat the squash pieces thoroughly. Add the cinnamon stick or cassia bark and orange zest, and bring to a simmer without a lid over med-high heat for about 2-3 mins. Next, turn down the heat to med-low and simmer for about 50-60 mins, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon. It’s cooked when the compote is slightly jammy looking and all of the moisture has evaporated.
Set aside to cool slightly while you toast the almonds. Place the flaked almonds in a large heavy-based frying pan or shallow pan in a single layer and, over a medium heat toast until they are lightly browned.
Serve the compote with a sprinkling of toasted almonds, a generous helping of mascarpone cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon.
During my stay on Zanzibar Island, I would often sit on the beach quietly taking photos of the village women of Jambiani as they dug for clams on the shoreline. This took place mainly in the early evenings, just as the sun began to set. The vibrantly dressed women against the pale blue of the sea and the golden hue of evening light was a vision to behold.
I asked a local man – the women did not speak to mzungu much – how the women prepared the clams they were gathering. “The clams are cooked in coconut with lime and salt,” he told me.
Eating on the island was an absolute pleasure for the scenes. There are very few fridges in local cafes and restaurants, so everything is freshly prepared–fresh fish, fresh coconut, mango, passion fruit, limes, Thai basil and spices are grown on the island were frequently used giving dishes the most delightful flavours and scented aromas.
This simple dish is an adaptation of the recipe given to me, but with a few additional ingredients which were abundantly used in the dishes of local restaurants.
You will need
clams 500 g
coconut milk 400 ml
zest & juice 1/2 lime
2 dried lime leaves
2 inches finely grated ginger
1 clove garlic crushed
1 level tbsp of tamarind
handful (20 g) of fresh Thai basil leaves roughly chopped*
salt & black pepper for seasoning
To begin, soak the clams in a large bowl of cold salted water for about an hour to remove any sand. Pour clams into a colander and rinse thoroughly under the cold water tap. Then swoosh around in the colander to remove excess water. Discard any clams that are fully open.
Place the coconut milk, dried lime leaves, ginger, garlic, tamarind, lime juice and zest and a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a large pan and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the lime leaves and any large bits of tamarind that hasn’t dissolved. Pop the chopped Thai basil into the sauce reserving a little for garnishing. Turn up the heat slightly, pour in the clams, place a lid on the pan and let the clams steam for 5 minutes or so. Check to see if they are all open, if not give them a few minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Discard any clams that have not opened. Spoon the clams and sauce into dishes and garnish with the reserved Thai basil leaves. Serve with dense white bread or white rice.
Serves two as a main dish or four as an appetiser.
*It has to be Thai basil as regular basil doesn’t work as well