Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thai Noodles with Chinese Chives

This dish requires a little time for preparation, but the cooking time is very fast. Everything is cooked speedily in a hot wok and should be eaten at once. Recipe serves 4.


12 ounces (375 g) dried rice noodles
1/2 inch (1 cm) fresh root ginger, grated
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces (250 g) pork or chicken, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
4 ounces (125 g) fried bean curd (tofu), thinly sliced
1 green chili, seeded and finely sliced
6 ounces (180 g) beansprouts
4 ounces (125 g) Chinese chives, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) lengths
2 ounces (60 g) roasted peanuts, ground
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 lemon, cut into wedges


1. Place the noodles in a large bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 20-30 minutes, then drain. Blend together the ginger, light soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl. Stir in the pork or chicken slices and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the marinade.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic for a few seconds. Add the pork or chicken slices and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Then transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil in the wok or frying pan and stir-fry the onion for 3-4 minutes until softened and tinged with brown. Add the bean curd (tofu) and chili, stir-fry briefly and then add the noodles. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.
4. Stir in the beansprouts, Chinese chives and most of the ground peanuts, reserving a little for the garnish. Stir well, then add the pork or chicken slices, the dark soy sauce and the reserved marinade.
5. When hot, spoon on to serving plates and garnish with the remaining ground peanuts, coriander and lemon wedges.

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Served with salad these make a nice light meal. Delicious served with a dollop of sour cream. Recipe serves 4.


4 large potatoes
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon (prepared) freshly crushed garlic
1 small onion, diced
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) Gruyere cheese, grated
1 ounce (30 g) butter
Vegetable oil


1. Trim a little from one end of the potato so they will stand upright in a baking dish. Trim a larger portion from the other end and set it aside.
2. Scoop out the flesh of the potato. Grate and combine with the salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, onion, butter and 1 1/2 ounces (40 g) of the cheese. Fill the potatoes with this mixture and place the potato lids back on top.
3. Stand potatoes in a baking tray that has been line with a sheet of baking paper. Brush the potatoes with a little oil. Bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.

Strawberry Palmiers

These delightful pastries bring a sweet, fruity touch to a morning coffee or afternoon tea-party. Recipe makes 10 palmiers.


1/2 cup white sugar
8 ounces (250 g) homemade flaky pastry, or 2 frozen sheets pre-rolled puff pastry, thawed
Beaten egg, to glaze
Caster sugar, to sprinkle
1/2 pint (300 ml) carton or jar fresh thickened cream
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
8 ounces (250 g) strawberries, hulled and sliced


1. Preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease 2 baking trays.
2. Sprinkle half the white sugar on a clean dry work surface. Roll out the flaky pastry on the sugared surface to a 14 x 10 inch (35 x 25 cm) rectangle. Or lay a pastry sheet on the surface, brush lightly with cold water, cover with the second sheet of pastry and roll out to a 14 x 10 inch (35 x 25 cm) rectangle. Trim the edges.
3. Position the pastry with a short edge facing you. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Roll up the pastry, from the short side nearest you, to the center. Turn the pastry around, so the other short edge faces you. Roll from the edge to the center.
4. Cut the pastry roll across into 20 thin slices. Lay the slices on the prepared baking trays, spacing them 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
5. Slightly flatten each pastry slice with the back of a spoon. Chill for about 30 minutes.
6. Brush the pastries with beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown, swapping the trays from top to bottom half-way through baking if you have 2 oven shelves. Place the palmiers on a wire rack and leave to cool.
7. Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star pipe/nozzle. Pipe cream onto 10 of the palmiers. Arrange the strawberries on the cream. Put a dollop of cream and another palmier on top and press down gently. Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve immediately.

Spiced Baked Beetroot

This dish is ideal for picnic fare. Served Spiced Baked Beetroot with hot or cold roast meats or poultry. Recipe serves 6.


12 small beetroot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


1. Preheat oven to moderate 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Brush a baking tray with melted butter or oil.
2. Trim leafy tops from beetroot and wash thoroughly. Place on prepared tray and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, until very tender. Set aside to cool slightly. Peel skins from beetroot. Trim tops and tails to neaten.
3. Heat oil in a large pan. Add spices and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Add sugar and red wine vinegar, stir for 2-3 minutes, until sugar dissolves.
4. Add beetroot to pan, reduce heat to low and stir gently for 5 minutes, until beetroot is well glazed. Serve warm or cold.

Strawberry and Apple Pastries

Delicious for dessert - these flaky pastries are served with a vanilla-flavored custard sauce. Recipe makes 4 pastries.


1 1/4 sheets frozen pre-rolled puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, to glaze
1 eating apple (about 5 1/2 ounces/175 g)
1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam or conserve
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
1/4 pint (150 ml) fresh cream
8 teaspoons caster sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface; trim the edges with a sharp knife. Cut the pastry sheet into quarters, to give a total of 4 squares of pastry.
2. For the filling, peel, core and dice the apple. Mix in a small bowl with the jam and cornflour. Spoon into the center of each pastry square.
3. Beat the egg with 4 teaspoons water and brush over the corners of each square. Lift the corners into the center and pinch together. Put onto the baking tray.
4. Cut four 1 inch (2.5 cm) rounds from the remaining quarter sheet of pastry. Brush the underside with the egg mixture and put on the center of each pastry for decoration. Brush the egg mixture over all the pastries.
5. Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little.
6. For the custard, mix together the cream, sugar, eggs and egg yolks in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and lemon rind. Cool, then serve with the warm pastries.

Tip: To help prevent the pastries from bursting, chill them for 30 minutes before baking.

Smooth Chinese Corn Soup

This is an easily prepared hearty soup, golden in color with egg white and pink ham. Recipe serves 4-6.


1 cup cooked ground (minced) chicken
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons chopped cooked ham
2 tablespoons water chestnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken stock
2 egg whites
4 large mushrooms (dried)
1 tablespoon pickled cabbage
2 cups pureed corn
1 tablespoon cornflour


1. Bring stock to boil in wok, add chopped mushrooms, salt and pickled cabbage and cook until tender.
2. Add pureed corn and continue to boil for about 5 minutes then add chopped chicken and ham, sherry and chestnuts. Boil for a further 2 to 3 minutes and add cornflour mixed in 2 tablespoons cold water.
3. Stir until clear. Reduce heat and gently stir in egg whites. Serve hot.


Although pesto is traditionally served as a sauce for pasta, it goes well with cold meats, grilled or broiled fish, in soups or on salads with a little extra oil and a dash of lemon juice. You can buy pesto but if you can lay your hands on a plentiful supply of fresh basil it really is worth making your own.


3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine kernels
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil


1. Combine the basil, pine kernels, cheese and garlic in a blender, and reduce to a thick, green, aromatic paste.
2. Add the oil, a little at a time, until well incorporated.

Variation: For Walnut Pesto, replace half the olive oil with walnut oil and use chopped walnuts instead of the pine kernels.

Microwave Cod with Cream Sauce

Bite-size squares of fish cooked in a creamy sauce and served on a bed of crisp toast. This is a quick and easy recipe which would work well with frozen cod fillets. Serves 4.

Power Setting: High (100%)


1 1/2 pound (750 g) cod fillets
2 ounces (60 g) butter
2 ounces (60 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 pint (300 ml) milk
1 cup single cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
8 slices of bread
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


1. Skin the cod fillets and cut into small squares.
2. Place the butter in a medium-sized dish or casserole and cook for 1 minute to melt. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, blending well. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring every minute to keep the sauce smooth. Add the cream, blending well and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the cod pieces and cook for 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
4. Beat in the egg yolks, salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg.
5. Meanwhile, trim the crusts from the bread and toast until golden. Arrange the toast on a warmed serving plate and spoon the cod and sauce over. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with boiled new potatoes and spinach.

To freeze: After completing Step 3, cool, then pour into a rigid container, cover, label and freeze.
Freezer life: 1 month.
To use: Thaw then cook for 3-4 minutes until hot. Continue from Step 4.

Melt-in-the-mouth Scones

These scones make the perfect afternoon tea - just serve with jam and clotted cream. Recipe makes about 12 scones.


2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
Pinch of salt
2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup caster sugar
5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
Extra milk, to glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C). Sprinkle a baking tray with a little flour.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch (6 mm) cubes and add to the flour. Gently stir the butter with the flour, using a wooden spoon, until each piece of butter is separated. Stir in the sugar.
3. Add the milk and stir with a round-bladed knife until a soft dough forms. Toss lightly for a few seconds, just until smooth or compressed.
4. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface. Pat out until 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut out 9 rounds with a 2 inch (5 cm) cutter. Gather the trimmings and make 3 more rounds. Put the rounds onto the prepared baking tray.
5. Brush the tops of the rounds with a little milk. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the scones are well risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
6. Serve the scones warm with jam and clotted cream.

Tip: To chill the butter, freeze for 10 minutes before using. Do not over handle or knead the dough in Step 3 or the scones will be heavy.