A seasonal recipe! Cauliflower is very October, which is all the excuse I needed to make this tonight. I’m sure I must have learnt this from my mum although I can’t actually remember her making it in living memory… Anyway! Promise you it’s better than its takeaway equivalent 🙂 Don’t be put off by the prep and cook time, mostly it’s time spent leaving stuff to do its thing so is not as heinous as it might look at first glance.
Cut up the cauliflower and put the pieces into a collander, wash thoroughly and leave to dry. Slice the onions, and mince or finely chop the garlic.
In a medium sized bowl (anything bigger than a cereal bowl should be fine) mix the oil, cornstarch and sugar for the marinade. You’re aiming for a consistency like runny honey so add a little more oil if its too thick or a little more cornstarch if its too thin.
Next, slice the rump steak very thinly – a Chinese cheat is to put it in the freezer an hour beforehand – and then add the slices to the marinade bowl and stir well to coat the steak. Leave for 15-30mins.
Heat a generous tbsp of oil in the wok over a medium high heat and then add the cauliflower pieces and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes (I like to let the edges singe a little). Season well with salt (and a spinkle of chicken powder if you have any) before adding a cup of water. Put a lid on it and turn the heat right up until all the water has evaporated. When the wok is “dry” again remove the cauliflower to a plate and set aside.
Put the wok back on a medium heat and add about a tbsp of oil. When it’s hot add the sliced onion and stir-fry until they are soft and translucent. Add the minced/chopped garlic and keep it moving about in the oil for about a minute without letting it burn before adding the marinaded steak. Keep moving everything to break up any clumps of steak or onions and to ensure an even stir fry.
As soon as the steak is sealed and browned all over (don’t worry if there are a few bits still pink) tip the cauliflower back into the wok and then add 4-5 good shakes of oyster sauce straight out of the bottle.
Stir to coat everything in the wok well, then add 1/2 to 1 cup of cold water and stir again. The cornstarch in the marinade should thicken the sauce a little as the added water heats up. When the liquid starts to bubble at the edges turn the heat down until the sauce is simmering and leave it for about five minutes.
Wow. Where did Summer go?? Not that it was much of a Summer all things considered, but I swear I blinked and missed it. So here we are, looking Autumn in the face, and I’m ready for it to be honest. More than that I’m looking forward to it! And here’s why… Autumn is for the return of guilty pleasure TV (Dallas and Downtown Abbey, I’m looking at you!), Hubby snuggles (preferably while indulging in aforementioned guilty pleasure TV), my wardrobe being in season again, and comfort food. Hello comfort food! You’re far more fun to blog about than salad!
So I’m back, and I’m going to start off the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness with a curry, even if Hubby is arguing that it should kick off with a Shepherd’s Pie 😉 It’s a lighter curry than my usuals, but I love it for that very reason. That and I keep calling it “Harakiri Chicken” by accident, which cracks Hubby up no end…
This is adapted from another gem of a recipe found in Delicious magazine with a few liberties taken on the ingredients and prepping, but I really didn’t notice a big enough difference in the tasty to warrant the harder work. That said, there’s still an awful lot of chopping to do, but its worth it because the freshness of the ingredients really shines through.
The key to this recipe is keeping the chicken pieces quite big, NO slicing into bite sized pieces because the smaller they are the quicker they’ll dry out and as we’re leaving this all to cook for half an hour then I wouldn’t cut each thigh into more than 2 pieces, 3 pieces max. The same holds true if you’re using chicken breasts instead, they’re even more prone to drying out so keep the pieces big.
A light and fresh curry that is perfect for when the weather is between season.
Put the oil and the butter in your pan, or wok, over a medium-high heat and fry the chicken until its browned all over but not cooked through – if you have chicken powder then sprinkle a little over the pieces while they’re browning to really bring out their savoury flavour – and then transfer to a bowl.
In the same pan, add the onion and lower the heat. Soften the onion for 10 minutes, stirring until they are coloured.
Next add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and give them a minute or two to cook down.
Add all of the spices to the onion mix and cook for about a minute.
Next, pour over the coconut milk and add the browned chicken pieces back in. Season well, stir well and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally, stir the lime juice through just before you’re ready to serve, then dish up on a steamy bed of white rice.
Edinburgh has a habit of losing good dim sum chefs almost as soon as they get them. First gust of that cold Winter North wind through Auld Reekie and the chefs flee back to warmer climes i.e. London. So we’ve learnt not to get attached to any new dim sum restaurants that start up because the deliciousness is usually fleeting. But! The Imperial Palace seems to have bucked the trend and has continued to produce good dim sum for well over a year now. Joy! At last, we don’t have to travel south to indulge in a decent dim sum frenzy (although when in London it would be remiss not to…).
Hubby and I probably hit up Imperial Palace at least once a month, either with the whole family or just the two of us or with visiting friends. Like this Saturday when we were there with one of my besties who was over visiting from California, and who is no stranger to good dim sum.
We ate our own body weight in delectable bites of steamed and fried goodness, and then some, all washed down with a lovely pot of green tea…
Hubby is a sucker for Char Sui Bau, and the ones at the Imperial Palace do not disappoint with pillowy white buns that are hot and steamy and slightly sweet, breaking open to reveal the treasure of sticky chinese barbecued pork inside. I was told that these are the Chinese equivalent to Yorkshire Puddings in that you stuff the children full of them and save all the really good dim sum for the grown ups! Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t quite work with Hubby. Possibly because we all dive into them too!
I’m a total dumpling addict, so we had Har Gau (a little bit bigger than the perfectly bite sized ones you get in Hong Kong but just as tasty) which I can’t eat without lashings of chilli oil, as well as Shanghai Dumplings which come in a basket of nine… NINE!!! I will actually give up other stuff to have these and can’t leave until they’re all eaten, such is my addiction (don’t judge me!)
The Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf was perfectly sticky and perfectly flavoured with the rice infused by the leaf. I don’t always recognise the meat inside it so left a rather large bit that seemed to be mostly bone to one side, but I’m sure it added to the flavour of the rice.
We had Beef Cheung Fun as well, which really is best described as chinese cannelloni! The Imperial Palace ingeniously serves the sweet soy sauce separately in its own bowl which negates the otherwise frustrating and futile attemps to spoon any of the sauce off the flat plate the Cheung Fun is served on with a big chinese spoon. Best eaten as soon as it arrives though, otherwise the rice noodle gets really claggy when it cools down.
And finally… Prawn and Garlic spring rolls, which were Hubby’s particular request. They make a nice change from the usual spring rolls, but I find them quite garlicky so can take them or leave them (definitely leave if there are still Shanghai Dumplings to eat!).
There wasn’t a hope in hell of us finishing off with noodles or the tasty little egg custard tarts, so we paid up and rolled out and in the direction of home.
We’ll be back 🙂 As will I, properly, once Autumn kicks in – am really rubbish at summer type food plus it’s been crazy busy of late, but after such a damp squib of a summer I’m ready for those colder nights and the comfort food that goes with it!
My retro trip continues! This weekend it was the turn of that total guilty pleasure starter, prawn cocktail, with the scales tipped most definitely in the favour of pleasure 🙂 I’m a big fan of M&S’s ready made but making your own Marie Rose sauce is so easy that it really is a sin not to just whip it up yourself. That and you can go for the biggest, fattest prawns you can find!
And if you like it as much as Hubby does, it makes for a great salad lunch with some avocados and cherry tomatoes tossed in too.
King Prawn Cocktail
A delicious retro classic, with an easy peasy homemade Marie Rose sauce.
1 lemon – juice half, and quarter the other half for serving
Dash of Tabasco
200g cooked prawns – king or tiger
Lettuce – iceberg if you’re sticking with the classic, or baby gem
Sprinkle of paprika
In a bowl large enough to hold your prawns and allow for some movement, mix the mayonnaise, salad cream and ketchup. Add lemon juice to taste and mix well. Next, add a dash or two of tabasco – you don’t want to be able to taste its distinctive flavour, just apreciate the piquancy it brings to the party – and mix again.
Tip your prawns into the bowl and stir until they’re all coated. I like to pop the bowl back in the fridge for a half hour to chill everything, but it’s not a must.
When you’re ready to serve, grab a few leaves of iceberg and roll them up like a cigar before slicing into ribbons. Half fill your serving bowls with lettuce (if you’re going for that full retro feel then it has to be a large wine glass!) before topping with the prawns. Or, make a wee cradle out of two or three baby gem lettuce leaves on a small plate and spoon the prawns into it.
Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve with a quarter of lemon.
Is it wrong that I love retro food quite as much as I do? I’ll happily feed friends my beef stroganoff and without a side of irony, or talk Hubby into picking up an M&S prawn cocktail on his way home (if Heston can eat them, so can I!). If there’s a Black Forest Gateau option for dessert then I can be usually persuaded to indulge my rare sweet tooth. And I’ve got my eye out for steak diane on a menu because it’s been forever since I’ve had one of those.
So it will come as no surprise that I have an irrational fondness for vol-au-vents. If there’s a plate of them on a buffet table I will make a beeline for them. And Christmas isn’t Christmas if I haven’t had at least one pack of M&S’s party food vol-au-vents.
I finally made them myself over Jubilee weekend, having scoured the interwebs for an appealing filling recipe I found this on Gourmet Traveller’s site, and thought the celebratory tone the champagne gives it would be perfect for a family get together. And they went down a treat! So much so that I didn’t eat nearly enough of them and promised Hubby I’d make them again “just for us”, which I finally did this weekend 🙂 I also seem to be having a love affair with tarragon at the moment so this killed two cravings with one dish!
The original recipe seems to be for small canape sized vol-au-vents, however, life is too short to make my own so I cheated and bought some ready to bake ones from Jus-Rol. They’re quite a bit bigger than bite sized, at least two-bite sized, so I’ve adapted my recipe accordingly.
Champagne Chicken Vol-Au-Vents
More retro indulgence! Puff pastry nibbles for parties or seriously posh TV snackage.
1/2 small leek (40gm), white part only, thinly sliced
1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice
2 tbsp double cream
1 small chicken breast (about 250gm)
250 ml Champagne or sparkling white wine
125 ml water
In a small saucepan, small enough to fit the chicken snugly and cover with the poaching liquor, combine the champagne, water, leek, lemon rind and tarrogon sprigs. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then add the chicken and return to the boil for 10 minutes (keep an eye on the pot as it will try to bubble over).
After the 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and leave to cool completely while the chicken poaches through.
Once the poaching liquor has cooled down, remove the chicken and finely shred it (fingers or two small forks are perfect) and refrigerate it until needed.
Strain the poaching liquor only into a clean sauccepan (you can throw away the tarrogon sprigs and leeks) and bring to the boil again over a medium heat. Cook the poaching liquor down until it’s reduced to 50ml which should take 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it can cook down quickly – I kept pouring it into a measuring jug to check how much was left, then pouring it back into the pan and then back into the measuring jug, until I had my 50ml. Leave to cool completely.
While the liquor is cooling, preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the vol-au-vent cases with a little milk or egg and cook per the package instructions.
While the cases are cooking, combine the chicken, reduced cooking liquor, cream and sliced tarrogon in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice and sea salt.
When the pastry cases are ready, divide the chicken filling among them and then return to the overn for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Scatter with something green and decorative, and serve immediately with the remainder of your bottle of champagne!