Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best of 2014

This year I've moved to London and I've started culinary school, so I've eaten out a lot more and so I've posted fewer recipes and more reviews.  However, as it's still a cooking blog, in my "Best of 2014" I'm just going to have my favorite recipes.  Yes, these are the best according to me.  Sometimes I look at the page views for different posts and get quite disappointed as the popularity is not proportional to the quality of the recipes.  I mean I personally have to say that all the recipes are good because I'm biased and shameless but.... Well, these recipes are my favorite from this year.

Best Dessert
This soft and moist Plum Cake.
I know, it seems quite simple, but it has mascarpone in the batter and the plums are roasted in the oven and become incredibly sweet and juicy.  Simplicity at its best. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Best Eats This Week - Porcini Risotto & Truffle Flatbread (Beijing)

"Risotto with fermented porcini mushrooms, fermented mushroom powder, shaved champignon mushrooms and, of course, the obligatory Japanese element, yuzu."  Chef de cuisine Marco Calenzo described enthusiastically as he personally delivered the dishes along with Nello, his Sous Chef.

These two are all about Italian food with modern twists, food that's exciting, that's different, that makes you beam with anticipation when you read the menu, and have your expectations exceeded when you finally eat it -- because even with all those fancy experimental concepts, their main focus is still on the flavor.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Chestnuts

You know what I hate about YouTube?  I hate that it forces me to watch a 1 minute ad for a 2 minute video.  I try to be understanding when I'm watching longer things on Hulu or 4oD, yes, 5 minutes of advertisements for 20 minutes of worthwhile content, okay, that's fine.  It can't be half and half, if I'm watching an episode of Friends, which is about 20 minutes, you can't give me 10 minutes of advertisements beforehand.

Anyway.  I was listening to The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole because...Chestnuts.  Here they're not quite roasting on an open fire so much as stir-fried in a wok but I'm spending Christmas in China, what do you expect?

Friday, 19 December 2014

Miso Butter Beans & Sauerkraut on Toast

I was lost for words and thoughts and didn't know what to write in this post, so I actually found a prezi presentation on fun facts about sauerkraut.  I have to say, the word "fun" is used too liberally at times.  I do love presentations made with prezi though, so I still spent a good couple of minutes of my life watching the whole presentation. I love that under the heading of "Sensory Perceptions", after "sour", "salty" and "sulphuric", they've put "divisive in opinion".
I love random facts and would like to think I have quite a large collection of fun trivia in my mind, however, they're so useless that they have rarely even been helpful in pub quizzes.   Fun facts and one-liners.  I use the two to break awkward silences...which don't always alleviate the situation but you can't please everyone. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Best Eats This Week - Smoked Lamb & Hake (London)

Chef Neil Rankin is a bit of a legend when it comes to BBQs in London.   I had heard all about him and his meats and thus I had just assumed that his restaurant in Islington, Smokehouse, would be very much of a "guy" restaurant with meats of big, bold flavors.  To my surprise, it was all incredibly delicate and complex.

My two best eats this week were the mains at his restaurant -

Cornish hake, smoked mussels & bacon chowder.
 Smoked lamb shoulder, polenta, raclette & sambal. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Vanilla Raspberry Jam

I'll be honest, jam has never excited me.  I never opted for jam on my toast, or in my croissants, or as a filling in any other pastry.  Meh, I always preferred nutella and peanut butter or just pure butter with some sugar and cinnamon.  However, I love making jam, especially in the winter.  I love hovering over a stove and stirring continuously in a slow regular motion.  The steam rising up to your face and fogging up the windows, the scent sweetening the kitchen -- I mean it's like the equivalent of going to the spa for me.   
 Raspberry jam's great if you have no patience for what I just said.  I think this altogether took 20 minutes max.  I just make them for other people as gifts now.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Homemade Baked Beans On Toast

Heinz baked beans.

With any dodgy breakfast-fry-up, it's the one thing you're guaranteed to be good.  The eggs will taste of rubber, the bacon will be dry, the mushrooms will be greasy, but you know that those baked beans will be alright. 
 I'm a foreigner and I find it fascinating that when British people talk of "proper baked beans" they mean the Heinz baked beans.  Not homemade, not some gourmet version sold by some small independent business, no, no, it's Heinz.  It's a staple in most people's households, isn't it?  And you wouldn't dream of any restaurant using anything else.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Orange Pumpkin Seed Nougatine

Sugar can be scary. We have this one teacher in culinary school who often recounts these traumatizing stories involving hot caramel and skin and bones and scars.  In this recipe the sugar goes up to 158C -- yes, that's a light caramel that will burn through your skin to your bones and have you scarred for life but you know what, just be careful  because you have to play with sugar, it's just the most fascinating ingredient.  It's amazing how its properties change when heated up to different temperatures and then all the things you can do with it.  Just be careful, though. 
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