Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ginger-scented chocolate mousse with mango and passion fruit

Ever since I first read this one article about Philippa Sibley, the famous Australian desert chef, I wanted to make all the recipes in it. Her main element is fruit in desserts and I am such a fan of fruit in sweet things. Plus she is so innovative. It is exciting to read her recipes and I believe that if you are passionate about cooking there is no way you won’t feel like heading to the kitchen. I had to have a great amount of self-control. I gave in to temptation straight after purchasing the magazine and prepared her cherry and pistachio clafoutis. What a great dish. Delicious to the taste and visually equally stunning with the pistachio-green-tone. The next one on my mental list was the ginger-scented chocolate mousse with mango and passion fruit. The sheer unusual combination of ingredients has to be seen first hand. There was an event on the web which I wanted to join and this was going to be my dish. Unfortunately I missed the deadline but here I come with the dessert anyway. If you ever get your hands on a magazine with an article about Philippa, do read it. I am sure you will also be captivated by her talents.

I just want to say that I was a bit too greedy and prepared really big portions of the dessert (look at the size of the glass!). I am convinced that it has to be served in smaller portions. Less is more!! I have learnt my lesson.

Serves 6

1 egg

2 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

175g chocolate – 64%, melted and kept warm

60g glacé ginger, finely chopped, syrup reserved

1 ½ cups thickened cream, whisked to soft peaks

Pulp of 6 passion fruit

1 large mango (about 460g) cut into 2 cm cubes

Chocolate curls to serve

Combine egg and egg yolks in an electric mixer and whisk at high speed for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar, then bring to the boil and cook until syrup reaches hard ball (121oC on a sugar thermometer). Reduce mixer to low speed and add syrup to egg mixture in a thin steady stream, then increase to high speed and whisk for 5-7 minutes or until completely cold. Fold in chocolate, and then fold in glacé ginger and cream.

Combine passion fruit pulp and 2 tsp syrup from glacé ginger in a small bowl. Divide the mango among serving glasses, spoon over passion fruit syrup, then spoon chocolate mousse over fruit and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. To serve, scatter with chocolate curls and serve immediately.

According to Philipa’s notes in order to get the curls you can drag a round pastry cutter across chocolate to form the curls. If you don’t success – as me, top with coarsely grated or shaved chocolate.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

seafood risotto

This is a really lovely risotto. I absolutely adore seafood The end result is a very creamy dish with lovely flavours coming through at every mouthful. I did not make my own stock. Instead I used bouillon which is a vegetable stock with no artificial additives, no gluten. So instead of all the stock preparation step below I boiled my stock and added the fish. After approximately10 min I removed the fish and flaked it. I also did not have to put the stock through a colander for obvious reasons. The rest was as described below. I have omitted the addition of a glug of olive oil at the end as I felt it to be unnecessary as well as the extra spoonful of stock once the risotto had been divided between the plates. My risotto was already creamy enough.
The recipe was taken from Jamie Oliver's JAMIE'S ITALY. A book that is full of wonderful recipes and to whom watched his show on TV where the whole trip was filmed it will bring all these memories from scenes shown.

1.5 litres water (3 pints)

2 small carrots roughly chopped

3 tomatoes squashed

1 bay leaf

A small bunch of fresh parsley, one sprig left whole, remaining leaves picked and finely chopped

1.5 kg mixed seafood, scaled, cleaned, gutted, if using mussels they should be debearded

400g risotto rice

2 tablespoons of olive oil

A knob of butter

½ bulb of fennel, finely chopped, herby top removed and reserved

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

A pinch of crumbled dried chilli

A pinch of saffron strands

Juice of 1 lemon

50g butter

If you are going to prepare the stock from scratch put all the water into a large pan with the carrots. Tomatoes, bay leaf and whole sprig of parsley. Bring it all to boil, adding the whole fish to it and leaving the shellfish out. I used a beautiful peace of salmon I had. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove each fish from the pan and flake the flesh away from the bones. Put the meat on a plate and reserve. Return the bones to the stock to simmer for another 15 minutes. This will add great flavour to your stock. Skim any froth from the surface. Pass the stock through a colander into another pan and throw away the vegetables bits as well as the fish bones. Return the pan with stock to a low fire

Start the risotto by putting olive oil and knob of butter on a pan. Once it is melted add the chopped fennel, fennel seeds, dried chilli and saffron strands and cook very slowly stirring until the fennel bits have softened. Add the rice and put the heat up. Keep stirring all the time until the rice is translucent. Then start adding ladles of the stock to the rice, always stirring. Once the amount added is nearly all absorbed add another ladle full. When the rice is nearly cooked add the shellfish and flaked fish. Stir for a good 3-4 minutes until all the shellfish is cooked (the mussels will have opened up). Remove from the heat and add the butter, check the seasoning and add the lime juice. Divide the risotto between the plates and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and reserved fennel tops.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scottish Pancakes

I’ve always really enjoyed Scottish pancakes. Firstly because they are small. Secondly because of how great they taste. They are not blow-your-mind delicious, but have a gentle ‘deliciousness’ about them that does it for me. I used to buy small packages at Marks & Spencers and eat them up as if there was no tomorrow. Seriously. I find it quite charming that they are treated like toast and we eat them with butter and/or jam. I love toasting them. They are also great with scrambled eggs.

In preparation to pancake day I decided to prepare some Scottish pancakes. And had them with a tad of butter. The next day I still had some so I only had them toasted with butter again. I had no jam in the house so butter was the only option.

This time round I have used Nigella Lawson’s recipe from the beautiful book ‘Feast’. This is definitely the best Scottish pancake recipe I have ever prepared. Approved even by a scott.

Here it goes:

½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

150ml milk – room temperature

110g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon golden syrup

Put the vinegar into the milk and set aside. Put the flour into a bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda. In another jug or bowl add the egg, oil and then with the oily spoon measure the syrup in and whisk everything together. Add the vinegary milk, and then add the jug of wet ingredients to the dry, whisking to a batter.

Heat a flat griddle or heavy non-stick pan with no oil. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of batter to make each pancake, and then when bubbles appear flip them over to make them golden brown on either side.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

lavender rice pudding

I saw this dish for the first time in the beautiful blog ‘Café Fernando’. What attracted me to it first was the lavender ingredient. I have always loved the smell of lavender and last year I baked with lavender for the first time. The way all the senses are touched by this ingredient fascinates me. Plus I also had some lavender in the cupboard so I decided to use it.

The experience was fantastic. If anything it was relaxing. I had it cold as per Cenk’s post. Even though I am not a big fan of rice pudding I did enjoy it. I just thought that Cenk’s was creamier than mine. I did forget to cover it with cling film when in the fridge so I wonder if the pudding lost a bit of its moisture like that.

Cenk, thank you for this experience!

Below I put the ingredients and how to prepare exactly as per Cenk’s post – but do visit his blog if you haven’t yet done it as it is a beautiful space. This is the way to Café Fernando.

Lavender Rice Pudding


1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons lavender

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch


Put milk, sugar and lavender in a small pot, bring to boiling point, take off heat and let steep for 30 minutes minimum. Put the rice together with boiling water in a small pot and cook on medium heat with lid half closed for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed by the rice.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch together with a couple teaspoons of water and add a bit of hot milk to increase its temperature. Then add the whole thing into the milk. Transfer the infused milk through a strainer into the rice and cook for 30 minutes or so, until you reach the desired consistency. Transfer the pudding into your serving dish and refrigerate (covered with plastic wrap) until serving.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Leek and lime risotto with lime prawns and parsley

I tend to leave the office at the end of the day feeling really famished. It is not only a hunger pang. I find that when we feel like that the danger is that we go for the first edible thing that crosses our path. I struggle really hard not to eat the first pack of crisps that I see on the way home. Often a bottle of fizzy water keeps my stomach at bay. The other day I got home and the quickest thing that I could knock out was a risotto. I know that risottos require a lot of attention but the good thing is that it keeps me off nibbling and by the time my risotto is ready I enjoy every bit of it.

There is something wonderful about rice. It is so comforting; versatile.It looks beautiful in its whiteness. Risotto is one of those dishes that play with our creativity. This time I used leeks and lemons. I also had some prawns in the fridge so I prepared them on the side and served with the risotto as well. The result was a lovely, creamy dish with a lemony taste.

This dish feeds two not-so hungry eaters.

For the risotto:

700ml chicken/vegetable stock (I tend to use vegetable)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 leeks, finely sliced

1 cup Arborio rice or any other risotto rice

Parmesan shavings

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

For the prawns:

A knob of butter

Prawns for two people

1 teaspoon lemon rind

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice


I like to prepare the prawns first: Melt the butter in medium heat and when it has melted add the lemon rind and chopped parsley. Give it a good stir before adding the prawns to the pan. Season. When the prawns turn pink all over it is time to take them off the heat. They can so easily become rubbery and unpleasant to the palate.

To prepare the risotto: place the stock in a saucepan in medium heat and take it to a very slow simmer. Then place the olive oil in a separate pan, throw the leeks in and cook until soft. Slowly add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until it is translucent. Only then start gradually adding the stock. After every addition stir constantly until liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock until rice is soft and the risotto is creamy. If you need more liquid heat extra stock. The rice grains should be firm but tender. Serve immediately and put the parmesan shavings and prawns on top of the risotto.

It will put a smile on your face.