Posts tagged sesame

Duck & Watermelon Salad

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‘ve a list of recipes that just catch my eye for one reason or another that I immediately add to my ‘to cook’ list. Those reasons could be the choice of ingredients, the vibrant colours or just a mood and craving but all contribute to the creation of this list. Shamefully the list has been growing faster than it has even had a chance to be depleted this summer! However an easy Tuesday this week called for this vibrant and fuss free salad. Not much cooking here – just a lot of chopping and fancy scattering. Studded with pomegranate gems, hidden with crispy morsels of duck supported by a solid foundation of juicy watermelon bricks.

Having just this week returned from a bootcamp-esque paradise holiday in Greece filled with wake boarding, yoga, volleyball (I could go on), this recipe offered the perfect balance to continue the health kick while fantasising about being back in the turquoise oceans and white sands of my much beloved Greece.

It has been adapted by a recipe from ‘The Londoner’. Adapted with an alternate dressing more heavy on the lime and some extra hidden gems – roasted peanuts in any dish are rarely a bad thing. But what we do share is our appreciation for the hot duck – cold melon combo that is just so refreshing and de-wicious.

*[Alex and Alice – if you’re reading (which I hope you are), put this on your ‘to cook’ list too before summer is completely over!]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 large watermelon, chopped into chunks
  • 2 duck legs
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • Bunch of mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the duck and roast in a tray for an hour.
  2. While the duck is cooking, chop your watermelon into big chunks and add to a large salad bowl big enough to contain the whole salad.
  3. Add the chopped spring onions, red chilli and chopped herbs.
  4. Add the peanuts and pomegranate seeds (as many as you wish to balance the rest of the salad) and combine well.
  5. Combine the juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are!) and the zest in a jam jar. Add almost the same measure of extra virgin olive oil, but a touch under so its more ‘limey’.
  6. Add the soy, sesame and some seasoning. Place the lid on the jam jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. The last thing you want to do is add a bad dressing to your wonderful salad!
  7. When the duck is ready, quickly shred the meat and crispy skin. It cools quickly so in order to maintain the hot/cold vibe you’re trying to create here, pop it back in the oven for a final blast of heat to warm.
  8. Once hot, add the shredded duck quickly to the salad bowl and coat the salad and duck liberally in the dressing and combine well.
  9. Serve immediately!

I served mine with a nice fresh rocket and cucumber salad and some homemade coconut flatbreads. But this is still a good and healthy meal in itself. A few chunky roasted croutons would not go a miss here however. Just sayin.

Crispy Asian Beef

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f you’re intending on sticking to or continuing to stick to a healthy diet this month after the indulgences of Christmas then I recommend Asian food as a good go to. It packs a reliant punch on flavour without compromising on health and nutrition. Not to mention that this is a really quick recipe and can be served out in about 20 minutes.

As a passionate cook and appreciator of food I have always been the type to savour my meals either for flavour or appreciation for the time and effort spent creating it – either by myself or more importantly a fellow cook. However, I can’t help but notice that many of us eat too fast. Not only does this encourage us to be unappreciative of the food, time and effort that has gone into making it but you cannot appreciate and savour the flavours. Sticking to the topic of nutrition and health this month, on a nutritional side the faster you eat the more chance you have of overeating. Eating slowly allows your stomach to register satiety at the right time. It also helps improve your digestion. Hand in hand with this I also recommend chewing your mouthfuls more to aid speed and digestion. Just putting down your fork (or chopsticks) after eat mouthful to enjoy, talk to your dinner friends and take your time is such a great habit to get into.

That said, a great way to get into this habit if using chopsticks! Not only is it fun and authentic but if you’re anything like me and still learning you can’t help but eat slowly…if at all. So obviously have a fork ready to hand to prevent starvation.

NOTE: Quite without meaning to I’ve created a gluten free meal using my stash of ‘Clearspring Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles’. Asain food is a great go-to is your are gluten free. As I say, it packs a punch on flavour without compromising nutritional requirements.

Serves 2

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 thumb size knob ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli (hotter the better here)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp fish sauce
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g ‘Clear Spring’ ‘Gluten free brown rice noodles’
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1 lime
  • Serve: I recommend a nice lime juice covered fresh crispy salad e.g. Cos lettuce, grated carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber etc
  1. Submerge and soak the noodles in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside kept warm until ready to serve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok on a high heat. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to break up the pieces into chunks. then add the star anise. Fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown well and crisp up. Keep an eye on it moving the mince around continuously.
  3. After about 5 minutes when well browned add in the ginger, garlic and red chilli and continue to fry on a high heat until the meat is really browned and crispy as below.
  4. After about 5-10 minutes add the soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir to combine. Cook until really dark and crispy to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped spring onions, coriander and basil
  6. Drain the noodles and squeeze over the lime juice and add the sesame oil
  7. Serve the noodles in warm bowls and top with your crispy beef piece and a lovely crunchy fresh salad.
  8. Jess - Crispy Asaian Beef 2

 

Tofu, Mushroom and Seaweed Kale

Jess - Ingredients

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 vegan dish was a palatable challenge for me I’ll admit. In a world where butter dominates the foundations of my recipes like culinary cement; I was skeptical. No butter? You heard correctly…no butter? However, with a goodie bag of Japanese inspired ingredients from Clearspring, whose vast array of cultural delicacies regularly glare at me temptingly from their own region of the supermarket, I thought I’d experiment and I can safely say that butter wasn’t missed here!? With the divergence in diets and intolerances infiltrating our British habits in what is perhaps a foodie fad or otherwise, I thought I’d better jump on the diary and meat free band wagon and see if soya and tofu could satisfy my taste buds. With fish and vegetables dominating my diet already I was keen to see what the removal of dairy would have to offer.  I enjoyed this meal twice this week which is surely enough said. One evening using nutty pearl barely and the other using some of Clearspring’s gluten free brown noodles. Both delicious and fresh.

Gluten, diary, meat and nut free I think this one deserves the intolerance crown.

Serves 2

  • 1 box mushrooms (250g). Mixed such as shitake, oyster or chestnut
  • 1 small handful dried mixed wild mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 15minutes then chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 80g pearl barely/80-100g brown rice noodles
  • 200g kale
  • 100g peas
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Clearspring seaweed flakes OR Welshman’s caviar
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 100g cubed tofu (optional)
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Start by either soaking your noodles in hot water for 30 minutes covered or simmering your pearl barely for 25-30 minutes in hot water under tender. Drain well and drizzle with the sesame oil and keep warm.
  2. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently soften the sliced spring onions for about 5-8 minutes until just beginning to brown and season. Once softened, place in a bowl and set aside keeping warm if you can. These will be combined with the cooked kale later.
  3. Heat the same frying pan again until hot. Add the sunflower oil. Chop the mushrooms roughly into hearty chunks and gently fry for about 10-15 minutes with plenty of salt and pepper to cook and crisp up the mushrooms. They will release a little moisture so keep frying to evaporate this off and brown and crisp them up slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, cook your kale in a pan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Add the peas and bring back to the boil. Once boiling remove from the heat and drain well allowing all the moisture to drain.
  5. Tip back in the pan, add 1 tbsp soy sauce and the seaweed flakes. Add the reserved spring onions and mix. Place the lid back on a keep warm while you finish the mushrooms.
  6. When the mushrooms are ready, crisp and delicious add the garlic and allow to cook for a few more minutes. Then turn up the heat and add the chopped rehydrated dried mushrooms, the noodles or pearl barely and fry for 1-2 minutes to reheat and combine the flavours.
  7. Optional here, add some cubed tofu and heat through and scatter with the coriander.
  8. Serve the mushrooms on top of the kale and garnish with black sesame seeds if you like

Sticky Soy and Sesame Pork

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peedy and delicious. If you get embarrassingly excited at the idea of sticky sweetly glazed tender strips of pork on soft oozing coconut rice then I suggest you give this recipe a try. Another long week at work, Friday nights recipe choice had high expectations to satisfy a variety of needs. I craved nothing more than comfort, flavour and relative speed. If you serve this on plain rice then you’ll have an even speedier dinner in minutes but I can never resist a coconut infused creation. Except coconut water. Whats the fad about? Dishwater disguised in a eco-friendly carton. Having been found on numerous occasions unashamedly desperately corkscrewing a hole into a fresh coconut only to slurp the fresh juicy ‘milk’ from inside with a straw this is a far healthier (economical) and dramatic way to get your coconut hit! Its fresh and delicious. Plus you get the joyful task of angrily throwing the empty coconut onto a hard floor (outside recommended) to crack it open to access the meaty pure white flesh. Perfect for grating into curries, porridge, use in cakes (see here) or into your coconut rice!

Serves 2

Sticky Pork

  • 1 pork fillet, sliced into thumb sized slices
  • 1 knob ginger, chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, stems and leaves chopped separately
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp rice wine vinegar
  • Sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 50g salted peanuts, crushed lightly

Coconut Rice

  • 4 oz brown rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Good handful desiccated coconut
  • 1 lime, zest
  • Handful chopped coriander to serve
  • Green vegetables to serve
  1. Begin with the rice. Warm the coconut milk in a saucepan with about ½ cup of water (you may need to add more water as it cooks). Bring to a light simmer but be very careful as the milk will boil over if left unattended on a high heat.
  2. Let it simmer on a fast simmer for about 25 minutes. You want to end up with cooked rice that has absorbed mostly all the liquid but is still loose so it oozes on a plate. Keep an eye out and add more water if it dries out before fully cooked.
  3. When cooked and still oozing, add the desiccated coconut, chopped coriander and lime zest and keep warm.
  4. Start on the pork which is a pretty speedy process so have your green vege and warming plate ready to go not soon after!
  5. Combine the cornflour with 2 tbsp of cold water in a jug. Add the soy sauce, sesame, vinegar and honey and mix well.
  6. Heat a frying pan or wok on a medium high heat. Quickly flash fry the chopped chilli, spring onion, garlic, ginger and coriander stalks in a splash of sunflower oil until softened. Add the pork and turn up the heat to get a nice colour on the outside.
  7. Fry for about 5 minutes or so until the pork is just cooked but still soft and not dry. Immediately add the soy mixture and stir quickly.
  8. This will thicken and bubble and glaze the pork. If it turns too thick too quickly loosen with a splash more water!
  9. Remove from the heat to prevent it overcooking and add the chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.
  10. Serve atop your coconut rice scattered with extra coriander, any spare sesame seeds alongside your green vegetables with a wedge of lime.
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Seabass in a Fragrant Coconut Sauce

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As an avide foodie I crave and adore nothing more than a night in with a new recipe, ingredient, technique or guest to experiment on for the blog! Cheaper, more fun and far more relaxing. However, since moving to London the expanse of diverse, exciting and vibrant culinary pop-ups, restaurants, cafes and bars has stolen part of my attention which had been held hostage to the blog for a long while. I rarely eat out, only really on occasion. And then, nothing pains and bruises me more than ordering (or eating!) something I could have made myself. Be it better, warmer, larger or cheaper! Hence, I choose my dining locations carefully and my menu choices with thought.

However, as a fellow foodie, my willing sister and I venture out on a monthy or so basis to one of London’s restaurants to excite our taste buds, get inspiration and frankly for a girly catch up. Our list of ‘must try restaurants’ is only growning sadly. It seems that once one is ticked off another is added. We’ve had some great food but last Friday, after long frustrating working weeks, a home cooked delicious meal was in order. A few luxurious king prawns, a little love, time and attention and an aromatic riesling guaranteed and certainly delivered a more relaxing, cheaper, (boozier…..ahem…..) and enjoyable evening. This dish was delicious and hit the spot for flavour, decadence (without being time consuming I add, especially if you miss out the stock infusion at the start) and highly satisfying. Followed by a few too many scoops of my cheats salted caramel ice cream it was agreed that an evening in was far more rewarding and enjoyable than filling London’s bars and tills with our hard earned cash!

Serves 4

  • 4 seabass fillets
  • 8-10 large raw whole king prawns (win heads and shell) Optional – if you want to make a flavoursome stock. Raw cleaned prawns are fine if not.
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Thumb sized piece ginger, grated
  • 20g tumeric root, grated
  • 1 large red chilli (heat according to taste)
  • 350ml fish stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Bunch spring onions, chopped
  • Large bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 limes, 1 cut into wedges to serve
  • Around 8oz rice – I used red Camargue rice
  • Greens to serve e.g. mange tout, pak choi etc.
  1. [This first step is optional and can be skipped. It will add a depth of flavour to the dish by using the shells and heads to enrich your fish stock. Peel the shells and heads from the prawns keeping the prawns for later. Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium high heat and add the shells and heads. Fry for about 5-8 minutes until they turn pink and begin to release their flavour and oily orangey juices. After this time, add the hot fish stock and simmer gently for about 4 minutes.
  2. Sieve through a fine sieve into a jug or another saucepan retaining all the liquid but then discard the shells. Keep the stock warm until needed.]
  3. Next, heat a tsp of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Fry the ginger, tumeric, garlic and chilli for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  4. Bash the lemongrass with the back of a knife a few times to open up the layers and add to the pan with the lime leaf and simmer gently for about 10 minutes to reduce the sauce and let the faours infuse.
  5. Add the fish sauce (I suggest adding it a tbsp at a time and tasting in between as once its in you can’t take it out again!).
  6. I made this a day ahead and I really think it benefitted from some time infusing in the pan while quietly chilling in the fridge (especially using the lime leave and lemongrass which will release thier flavours endlessly). I recommend at this stage to remove from the heat and leave to cool and infuse overnight. If not, continue as below.
  7. Simmer (or reheat, depending on your method) the sauce until you reach the desired creamy consistency you prefer then remove the lemongrass and lime leaf and discard. Stir in the chopped spring onions and coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm while you prepare the rest.
  8. Cook your rice and add the juice of 1 lime to the drained hot grains and set aside to keep warm.
  9. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and add another tsp or so of coconut oil. Cut your seabass fillets in half if you wish, and score the skin to stop them curling up on frying. Fry, skin side down for 2-3 minutes, flipping only whe the skin is crisp and the flesh is almost done which you will see when the majority of it has turned white.
  10. While the seabass is cooking, add your prawns to the hot coconut sauce. Add them when the sauce is barely simmering to gently and lightly cook the prawns. Don’t overcook these or they will go all chewy. They need very little time and heat so a brief blast in the hot sauce until they just turn pink will do sufficiently.
  11. To serve, divide the lime rice among large warmed soup bowls.
  12. Top with the seabass fillets and divide the creamy sauce around the outside. Scatter with any reserved coriander and a juicy zesty wedge of lime!

To serve – I served mine with some briefly blanched sugar snap peas and mange tout. Drained and dressed quickly with a teaspoon of sesame oil while still hot and scattered with nigella seeds.

NOTE: This would also work very well with salmon. Feel free to gently poach the fillets in the coconut sauce for a different technique. Serve with any greens you like. Another addition would be to grate in some fresh coconut for added texture and taste.

WINE: Served with a lovely aromatic riesling to balance with the spice in this dish. Or a beer if you prefer! See here for some lovely suggestions.

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To follow if you’re feeling like you need a Friday treat…………

  1. Mix 1 can caramel condensed milk, 300ml single cream, 1 ½ tsp flaky maldon salt, crumbled in a tupperware. Freeze until set and then devour! NO CHURNING INVOLVED! (Crumble in some roasted hazelnuts, walnuts peanuts or pecans if you like)
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Glazed Salmon, Asian Greens, Sesame Cucumber

 

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I can’t believe my birthday has come and gone yet again. With another year under my ageing belt it only seemed natural to add another cookbook to my ‘library’. It really is expanding at such a rate that I may have to develop some sort of filing system soon. I currently have them stored in a few tame and humble 6 bottle old wooden wine cases but with each eager book spilling out over the edge, oozing its glossy (some more oil splattered) pictures in front of me it may be time to move out to a magnum case…?

To cut a long story short, my birthday granted me with Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian cookbook. I love this quick and flavourful cooking  but with more of a traditional palate I needed a helping hand and a point in the right direction or orientation should I say. East. And to help me along the way not only did I get this vibrant drool-worthy book that I literally want to cook every recipe of (rare I assure you) I also received a few of Bill’s Asian ‘Pantry staples’ to add to my other collection (again, yet to have its own filing system) and some beautiful serving bowls. After all presentation can be half the battle!

NOTE: for those into this style of food I really recommend Bill’s book. There may be some alien ingredients but nothing a quick trip down the ethnic aisle of Tesco can’t solve. A simply written, helpful book. And you really will want to cook everything…there just aren’t enough mealtimes in the day or days in the week unless I start replacing my morning tea with miso soup? Unlikely.

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Glazed Salmon

Serves 4

  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 4tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown soft sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 salmon fillets
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl with the salmon fillets and pop in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Preheat your grill or BBQ. Grill for about 7minutes or so until charred on the outside but still pink and very most in the middle. Don’t be tempted to cook too long. The residual heat will carry on cooking it once removed from the grill and it is better served a little pink in the middle.
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Sesame Cucumber

  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp ride vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cucumber
  1. Use a mandolin/speed peeler to peel thin strips of cucumber into a bowl.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the cucumber

Broccoli

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 red chilli, sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced finely
  1. Boil your broccoli for a matter of minutes until still al dente and bright green. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan until hot. Flash fry your chilli and shallots until crispy. Add the garlic slices at the end as they will burn easily and fry until golden and crispy. Scoop out from the oil and drain and allow to crisp.
  3. Serve the broccoli, warm and scattered with the crispy garnish and a little drizzle of the infused oil

imageBeautiful serving dish courtesy of my sister and the Portobello markets

Dukka

I’ve never been to Egypt but this is how I imagine it tastes…….Dukka is a ground blend of spices and nuts and is eaten in Egypt as a pre-dinner nibble with bread and oil. The idea is to dip chunks of bread into some good quality peppery extra virgin olive oil then dunk greedily into the dry spice mix and gobble in one! However, I also add it to salads and roasted vegetables such as carrots and beets. It can also be used as a dry rub for lamb or to top fresh bread dough before baking.

I first saw this recipe in Hugh’s River Cottage Everyday book and immediately loved it! Hugh we love you but I have adapted the recipe and added some extra flavours of my own which I think go nicely. As we found out this sunny summer weekend, this nibble goes down a bit too well with a chilled glass of pinot and some jovial company….

  • A handful of hazelnuts OR a large handful of chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Small handful shredded mint leaves
  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and roll them in between a tea towel to remove the skins. Add to a pestle and mortar and crush coarsely or chop into small pieces
  2. Toast the seeds spices in a dry frying pan until fragrant and they just begin to crackle. Add the to the nuts in the pestle and mortar along with the chilli flakes and salt. Grind coarsely
  3. Shred some fresh mint and stir into the spices.
  4. Enjoy with oil and bread for dipping

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