Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Thai Pork and Pineapple

A light little stir-fry.
I started off with sauteing some onion, few chillies and just in the last minute, chopped garlic. Then took these out from the wok, and started browning my pork fillet slices.
(Do not overcrowd the meat in this process as it will get chewy. Just few slices at the time, till nicely browned. Fast and on furious heat)  Collect all the browned slices on the side, together with the sauteed onion, chilli and garlic. 

When I finished the browning, I added them all back into the wok, together with the sauteed onions, chillies and garlic. Then sprinkled a good spoonful of Palm sugar (can use brown sugar as well) , little crushed black pepper, few cubes of pineapple and about a cup of pineapple juice. I used canned pineapple, so the juice from the can itself was pretty much what I needed.

I warmed the mixture up for few minutes, then added the juice of half a lime, about two table spoons of Fish sauce.  Sprinkled it with chopped coriander and mint.

I make this dish quite often,  just love the combination of flavours (sharpness of the lime, sweetness of the fruit and sugar, spiciness of the chillies). A marriage made in heaven!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Getting dirty with those dumplings


With full steam ahead, I made a hot water dough in a big bowl, and shaped it up nicely into little discs. 
Why with hot water? Because the original plan was to fry these dumplings and the skin turns much crunchier if the dough was made with hot water. Cold water doughs are more suitable for boiled dumplings. It is a completely different texture.  At the bottom of this post are the recipes for the...DOH!

  

Then I made the filling:



It was a mixture of: chopped bok choy, Chives, Leeks, Shiitake mushrooms, Cilantro, grated Ginger and Garlic, Chopped Tofu, Grated carrots, some chillies, Soy sauce, Sesame oil, and white pepper.
I very much imagine this mixture also as a salad, and I think it will be on my list for one of the dinners in the near future. But the intention of today's exercise, was to get dirty with the dough. 

After I filled all my dumplings with this mixture, I fried them in very little and very hot oil, for 2 minutes, then added half a cup of corn flour and water mixture (about one teaspoon of corn flour), covered it up and simmered it for further 5 minutes. If you include meat in your mixture, do allow at least ten minutes of simmering.

And this is what it looked like when it was ready. Sitting on a very nice golden lacy base created by the corn flour and water mixture.  




Cold water dough:  600 grams flour, 1 cup cold water.


Hot water dough:  3 cups (375 grams) Plain flour, 1 cup hot water (80 degrees C) and half cup of ice cold water, but only after the hot water has been fully crumbled in the flour.

And a little bit of science for those Food Enthusiast:

"The dumpling dough's water content and resilience can be changed by varying the water temperature. The variations are necessary for achieving the ideal dumpling. A hot water dough has more water and is weak/yielding. That's because flour can absorb more hot than cold water, and hot water weakens and partially cooks the gluten but cold water doesn't. A cold water dough, in comparison, is not only stronger/more stretchy but also has less water"

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Thai salad



I can't think of a more refreshing way to finish off a hot day. Last night I decided to make a Thai salad.

The ingredients:

Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber
Lettuce
Shallots
Green beans, chopped, boiled for 5 minutes then plunged into ice water
A handful of toasted peanuts, chopped and only added in before eating. Otherwise they get soggy.

The dressing is a typical Thai one, which consist of:

Juice of half a Lime
Palm sugar- about one tablespoon
Fish sauce One Tablespoon
Fresh chillies, chopped (I used three because I like it fiery)
Coriander, chopped
About 4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced really tiny. I usually keep a bag in the freezer with these, as they are not easy to find in your regular supermarket. Unless you live in Thailand :)
If you have lemon grass handy, add it to the mortar too.

I bashed up all the dressing ingredients in a mortar, as opposed to just mixing it in a bowl. I also added a few more cherry tomatoes in the mortar to help with the juices. I find that there is much more flavour released if I prepare it this way.



 This salad can be enjoyed on its own, but I prefer it with steamed Jasmine rice topped with nice soy sauce.

Bon Apetit!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

My mom's chocolate cream (for cakes)

This needs to be cooked over a steaming pot (Bain Marie)
Mix together 3 whole eggs, one cup of sugar and 3 Tablespoons of Cocoa powder.
I often use pure solid chocolate chopped up, instead of the powder. The same quantity, or God forbid, even up to 4 Tablespoons at times.

Stir gently for about 20 minutes, until the mixture thickens nicely and darkens in colour.

Then cool down to room temperature.

Add in about 200 grams of butter and zap it up with a mixer until nice and silky.

Spread over your chosen sponge.
As you can see, my sponge has collapsed on me. I really shouldn't be posting pictures of such failures in the future. It is not very uplifting for my audience :)

I am always satisfied with this cream though.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Thai minced chicken with basil

A very aromatic Thai style dish, made with minced chicken.

I saute some chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and Spring onions.
Add in the minced chicken, stir fry it until it changes colour to white, then add the sauce:

Palm sugar or brown sugar, one Tablespoon.
Oyster sauce, one Tablespoon.
Soy sauce, one tablespoon.
Fish sauce, one tablespoon.
half a cup of water or chicken stock.

Bring to boil.  The chicken will be done in a bit more than 5 minutes from this point.  When it's done, toss in a LOT of fresh basil leaves. I use about 15 leaves for the quantity of one chicken breast.
Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the whole mixture, and serve with Fresh cucumbers and crispy lettuce. And perhaps steamed rice if you wish.  Vermicelli (rice noodles), also go well with this.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Spiced carrots

I believe this has something to do with Morocco.

Boil your chunkily chopped carrots for 4-5 minutes, then drain and cool. This was six medium carrots, a bit more than I need but I'd like to tuck into it tomorrow as well, when it's nicely chilled.
The dressing:
                                 Paprika powder (I used smoked Paprika)-1 teaspoon
                                 Cummin powder-1 teaspoon
                                 Lemon Juice -2 Tablespoons
                                 Olive oil- 2 Tablespoons
                                 Chopped parsley- 2 Tablespoons
                                 Salt -to taste

A great summer lunch.   Or a great little side dish.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sloppy potato gnocchi in Roquefort and cream sauce

Professionals have a particular way of fiddling with these gnocchis to make them the "perfect shape", but it needn't be fiddly, I'm telling you. The less you knead this dough the lighter your gnocchi will be as you cook them.
So I chose a way that is really simple, by boiling 4 medium potatoes in their skin, cooling them down, peeling them and adding them to a food processor with one beaten egg and about one cup of all purpose flour. A pinch of nutmeg and a little salt added. Zap it up quickly with a few pulses, not more. It will be gooey, but don't mind that. Some may call it,  uhm, "rustic"?

Bring your salty water to a boil and scoop out (by heating a spoon for few seconds in the boiling water between each scoop), some wallnut sized dollops. When they surface to the top of the water, they are done. Freeze the rest for next time. First on a tray, then pop them in plastic bag.  You  will need only about 6-8 dollops per serving. Or if you live in the US of A, or happen to have a massive appetite, double that.
(I see food portions at restautants there are massive)

Yes, they are not the shape as they supposed to be by Italian professional standard, made nicely with the fork incisions, but as you can see they are also not too bad to look at either.  And the taste is just the same. If not better. I am nor Italian, nor professional, so I have the perfect excuse for making sloppy gnocchis. Yay! And perhaps so do you.

Choose the tastiest potatoes you find. I chose the red skinned variety that is mostly used for salads. Nice firm texture, deep yellow in colour and tasty as hell. Here in Spain, they simply call them Patatas Rojas (Red Potatoes).

For the sauce, I heated up a good spooful of sour cream, with a little water, same amount of roquefort cheese, few springs of fresh thyme and a dollop of olive oil. It will take less than a minute, untill your cheese melts into the heavenly mixture.  When it all melted down switch off the heat, cover it up and let the Thyme infuse.   You can of course use the real cream instead of sour cream if you prefer, but in that case omit the water.   Voila.  Home made sloppy gnocchi!

Steamed Salmon with Cucumber salad, Sichuan style


 Have you ever asked yourself why grilled Salmon skin in this bubbly and crunchy state is so heavenly? When I steam my salmon, I always treat myself to the skins popped under the grill for few minutes (after rubbing them with olive oil and salt). Mmm!   It's the best bit.    Do make sure you scale the skin first. It will be messy, but worth it :)
 I placed the salmon (with the skin stolen!) onto some foil parcels, and topped it with a mixture of :
garlic, ginger, spring onions, chilli, sesame oil, cooking oil, black bean paste,  ground sechuan peppercorns, salt sugar, vinegar, chinese wine (or sake)  Steamed for 10 minutes. The steaming time will depend on the thickness of your salmon. This was about 3 cm thick.

For the cucumber salad I used Lebanese cucumbers (the short variety) de-seeded and salted then drained... crushed garlic, toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, few chillies.  For the dressing: regular cheapest roughest white Vinegar, white sugar, sesame oil and a little black pepper.


If you have any questions RELATED TO THESE DISHES, feel free to email me: daniellapreda@gmail.com

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Steamed eggs with goodies (a variation on Chawanmushi)

 First of all we prepare the Fish stock made of Dashi Granules. One cup of water, a teaspoon of Dashi.
Then we scramble two eggs and mix it with the cooled down stock and a teaspoon of Soy sauce.

 In a bowl, I layed out some strips of Chicken tights (which were the remains of a nice chicken soup), a few raw and de-veined prawns, and a couple of Shiitake mushrooms. You can use fresh, or the dry variety soaked in hot water for 20 minutes then squeezed out.    You can also add a splash of Sake if you got it.

I then covered the goodies up with the egg mixture *passed through a sieve, and popped the bowl  into a bamboo steamer and let it vigorously steam for 12 minutes.
As you scoop through the beautiful silky eggs all the goodies will greet you and beg you to eat them. I love this dish just as it is on its own. A full boost of protein.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Prawn and Broccoli Sichuan Style

It's a nice light dish, and it is so fast to prepare. For two people you will need one medium size broccoli, florets cut into equal size pieces, about 12-15 medium raw prawns- devined.

6 whole dried chilies
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground
Tablespoon of chopped Ginger
One small onion chopped
3 Garlic cloves minced

For the sauce:
Teaspoon corn flour,
Teaspoon brown sugar,
Tablespoon Soy sauce,
Tablespoon rice wine,
Teaspoon sesame oil, 
half  to one cup of water or good stock.

Heat up a little oil in a wok, add chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, ginger and onions. Stir fry for a minute. Then toss in the broccoli, raw prawns, the garilc,stir around to combine well.   Add the sauce, cover with lid, bring to a boil, and boil for 4 minutes.   You can decorate it with finely chopped spring onions.
Serve on top of steamed rice. Or noodles.






Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Meatballs with young pumpkin in cream sauce- Fasirt es Tokfozelek

There are times when I hate Skype. And then, there are times when I love it. Today for instance, I was in touch with my mom in Romania, as I am, most times.    You talk about many things but eventually it all comes down to   "what did you cook today?"  And this is the beauty she made for the family today. Meatballs "a la my mom", with young pumpkin (sauteed till tender in dill, then shocked with an unhealthy dosis of sourcream and flour to make a nice sauce) . 
After our conversation I immediately rushed to my fridge with all my fingers and toes crosssed. I was very much hoping I have all ingredients to make the same for my dinner. As I live isolated in a mountain, I cannot just pop out to a shop as I please to buy ingredients, you know.  But this time I was SO very lucky.  I found a small parcel of minced pork (for the meatballs), I also found freezed minced parsley (also for the meatballs:), even my young pumpkin I picked up late last week, and a whole un/opened jar of sourcream. The pumpkin I only got in with my last veggie shopping because it looked so good in the shop. But I forgotten about it till today!!!

In the morning I made my husband an Irish Soda Bread, that is what you see on the top right. I am not so keen on this bread, but love to see him excited about it. And he truly loves it, so that fills my heart with joy.

So here comes the recipe for the meatballs:  
One pound minced pork, preferably with about 30% fat content. 
One egg beaten
One good spoonful of parsley. Be generous.
One clove of garlic, minced,
Teaspoon of sweet paprika
Salt, Pepper

Roll with wet hands into small balls (a bit smaller than Golf balls), and fry in moderately hot oil till they reach a deep gold colour. Or, as in my case, DARK BROWN:)   DO TRY to turn them just once.
Drain on paper towels.





The tender baby pumpkin (should be greenish and long, kind of like an Albino Zucchini). 
It looks something like this: 

Grate it on the coarse side of the grater (not mushy, we still need texture)
Sprinkle with salt
Let stand for an hour
Squeeze out excess liquid
Heat pan, add a little oil, toss in grated pumpkin
stir, then add a whole shalot and a spoonful of chopped Dill
add half cup of water and simmer gently for 10 minutes
add a slurp of white vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar,
mix a Tablespoon of sourcream with a teaspoon of flour, and a bit of water,
add to mixture, bring to boil, and done.
Test for saltyness, and adjust if necessary.









Monday, 30 April 2012

Moroccan Minced Chicken stuffed in Filo


This is a very easy recipe to make, if you get your ready made Filo pastry. Start by sauteing chopped onion, ginger and garlic in a pan. Add a teaspoon of ground cumin, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, then toss in the minced chicken. Stir until the meat has become white, then add a teaspoonful of sweet paprika powder.  Make sure this latest addition to the pan does not burn, otherwise the whole dish will turn bitter.  Splash in a little bit of warm water that had a pinch of saffron soaking in it (for at least half an hour).


It will need about 15 minutes cooking time altogether. Do brake up the chicken bits to even sizes. We want them to cook evenly  (they do have the tendency to form clumps when they are shocked by the heat).

When it's all cooked, add in either 3-4 chilies, or a good spoonful of Harissa (traditional Moroccan chili paste, or God forbid: Sambal Oelek- not very Moroccan). Basically you just want to spice it up a bit, so anything you have at your hands that contain chillies, will do just fine.      I also have chopped into the mixture here about two tablespoons of fresh coriander, same quantity of mint leaves, and same of parsley.

I tried to make some tidy parcels of Filo pastry, stuffed with this mixtures.
But my parcels turned out more like pillows.  I brushed them with a beaten egg, and sprinkled them with un-toasted sesame seeds, then popped them into the oven for 15 minutes on 180 Celsius. 

I didn't want to push away all the aromatics in this chicken dish, so I served it with plain boiled potatoes. 










Bon Apetit!

Thursday, 1 March 2012


A very nice spring risotto with battered haddock. In order to keep my greens green, I used a different risotto method, sauteeing the greens and forest mushrooms just for a minute, then taking them out to rest, and re/ adding them in the 11th minute of the rice cooking slash stirring process. It was magnificent. I used rice that has a 16 minute cooking time.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Paella my way






This is actually a very slightly alterred recipe of a Paella that I leared from my lawyer. It is coming from the Andalusian region, but with a mountain touch ( a bit more robust than the other varieties).

Start by individually preparing in a pan some diced crispy bacon, browned pork fillet slices, and gently fried shrimps. You can also choose to have the raw shrimps added on the top of the paella while it is cooking. It will have plenty of time to get cooked if you chose to do it that way.

So, set aside the prepared crispy bacon bits, browned fillets, and shrimps.


Roast some green peppers, then cool, peel, chop and fry up with chopped onion, garlic and tomatoes.

When the juices start to run out, start rolling the unwashed arborio rice (or any short grain rice you prefer).
When the rice grains are coated with the nice vegetable juices, add in half a cup of dry sherry or dry white wine. Let it bubble up, then add chicken stock (double the amount of the rice used), some scattered shreds of saffron, 3 bayleaves, and scatter nicely on top the crispy bacon, pork fillet slices and shrimps. At this stage I also like to add in a few dried cayenne peppers.

Bring to boil. 6 minutes on high heat, 4 minutes low , and a further 6 minutes high heat. Switch off heat source and cover the whole pan up with a kitchen cloth for about 5 minutes, to absorb the extra moisture. The perfect paella must be having crispy (burned) bits at the bottom of the pan.




I like to add a few white giant beans at the end of the process, just to warm them up. I use these from can, already boiled.


Serve with a dollop of strong garlic mayonnaise, and no kissing afterwards!