Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Asian flavours

In order to mix and match Asian flavourings it helps to arrange them in flavour families. That makes it easier to work out what to use for the effects we want to produce

Salty (essential for tasty food)
Soy sauce (salty, a bit thin flavoured on its own) oyster sauce (softer and fuller) salt (surprise!!) stock powder

Hot (for depth and balance – don’t need much, or not at all)
Chili/ sweet chili sauce, curry powder or paste (thai curry pastes only need a teaspoon or so to give a bit of zing) pepper

Acidic (cuts down and lightens heavy flavours)
Vinegars (use sparingly, they can be quite strong) lemon or lime juice or sherry or rice wine (neither of which you’re likely to have)

Honey, sugar, hoi sin (or Chinese BBQ sauce – a heavier flavor, a bit salty but predominantly sweet)

Coconut Milk (CM)– a category of its own, works to soften down flavours the way you’d use yogurt or sour cream in western cooking, but, of course, coconut flavoured (duh!)

Sesame oil (SO)– such a distinctive flavor, warm and nutty – goes well with Chinese type flavours, would be more cautious combining it with Thai

Cumin – the authentic taste of general spiciness (is also used in Mexican)
Coriander – I think it goes with everything, but that’s because it’s my favourite
Ginger – sharper and more zingy
Five spice – usually not mixed with the other spices, fragrant and unique
Garlic – a little bit is good added to most things
Lemon grass – fresh lemon flavor without the strong acidity

Possible combinations

A salty, plus an acid plus a spice or 2, either sweet or SO or neither

CM + soy + coriander + some lemon or lime + maybe sweet

CM +hot +salty +spice

Salt +spices

CM +salt +lemon grass +coriander

Salt+ acid +sweet = sweet and sour – add a spice or 2 for flavour variations

Our old classic Chinese = soy +acid +coriander +cumin +SO

Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Pantry

Salt, sugar (brown or white),

Dried Herbs and spices
Thyme, basil, oregano, maybe tarragon (magic with chicken and yogurt), or dill (fish, chicken, veggies)
Paprika (for goulash) cinnamon (or maybe just cinnamon sugar) coriander, cumin (both good for asian) 5 spice, maybe ginger,
Perhaps a curry powder (I prefer Malaysian to Indian)

“Wet” herbs
Ginger, lemongrass, garlic
Pesto (which you should be able to get in multiple varieties)
Curry paste (nice used in small quantities with e.g. yogurt, lemon, coriander)

Lemon and/or lime juice
Decent olive oil (light for cooking, e/v for salads, bread etc)

Sauces etc
Soy, oyster, sesame oil, sweet chili, hoisin (? sweeter) teriyaki (? Like a lighter flavor soy)
Balsamic vinegar (white is even nicer than brown, and looks better)
Salsa or other Mexican sauce
Small tins coconut milk (curries, other asian) or evaporated milk (general creaminess)
Tomato paste

Tomatoes, butter beans or chick peas
Canned fruit (or frozen)

Couscous, pasta, instant rice (90 seconds in the m/w) noodles
Grated parmesan
Stock powder
Dried fruit?
Jelly crystals?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Quick Salad Dressing

Take some pesto from a jar and add a roughly equal quantity of water. Whisk together well with a fork.


Berry-misu (12+ servings)
1. Take 500g (or more) of frozen raspberries, (or other berries) thaw and drain – keeping the juice
2. Arrange 1 packet of savoiardi (sponge fingers) in the base of a baking dish, lasagne dish or similar
3. Spoon the raspberry juice (mixed with 2 tabs of chocolate or berry liqueur if desired) over the savoiardi, so as to soak into them
4. Dissolve 1 sachet (=3tsps) of gelatine in hot water
5. Mix gelatine into 400g (2 small tubs) of any berry flavoured yogurt. Put aside until partly set
6. Beat 1 tub marscapone cheese and slowly add 1 carton cream (300mls), beating until well-mixed. A little sugar, vanilla essence or liqueur may also be added at this point, according to personal taste.
7. Beat in par-set yogurt until well-beaten
8. Spread over savoiardi and set in fridge.
9. Decorate with fresh berries and/or grated chocolate to serve.