My first taste of the Caribbean!!!

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

I have never tried Caribbean food before. We were meant to go last year but never got round to it. My hubby’s colleague, Heath, mentioned that there is a restaurant in Soho called ‘Jerk City‘ that we should try out as they serve excellent Jerk Chicken. So, on Tuesday, we all met up and ate there! πŸ™‚

Jerk is a style of cooking which the meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture. I am not really a big fan on spicy food so my hubby ordered the traditional jerk chicken so that I can try it and I ordered a barbeque chicken for myself. It is a small restaurant and it is catered for take away deliveries as well and the staff was really friendly, Heath recommended ordering some starters to go with our meals. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the ‘Fried Plantain’ and the way he described this seemed like a very similar receipe that my mother-in-law has made in the past. It is like friend banana and very sweet. Maybe, I will have a go at making this later on the year!

Yummy Dinner!

Yummy Dinner!

We ordered macaroni cheese and some fried dumplings. Also, for drinks, I had the fruit punch which was delicious and the boys had the guiness punch. I tasted it and to my surprise, it was not bitter, it was really smooth and sweet and I really liked it!!! It reminded of Bailey’s…Heath said that you can make your own version with some condense milk, cinnamon and abit of nutmeg and you can add some cocoa powder and just whisk it altogether! The mains came with rice and peas although the ‘peas’ were ‘kidney beans’, not sure why they call it peas, a mystery eh? The portions were enormous and the dumplings were like the size of cricket balls!! The food was delicious and very filling! I would definitely go there again and try out the other dishes!

Afterwards, we went to be a bar called The Player which is discreetly hidden in Soho and you go downstairs into a basement area. The place was quite lively and they serve ‘Slider Burgers’ which are mini hamburgers with fries and ample choices of cocktails to choose from! It is a really nice bar as it wasn’t too packed, you can drink or eat there. You didn’t have to wait for ages to get served and the staff were really friendly. It certainly had an American atmosphere!

I really enjoyed my first taste of Caribbean food and would recommend everyone to try it!! πŸ™‚

Home-made gifts!

Homemade gift from April!

Home-made gift from April!

My friend, April is so sweet, when she came over, she made a lovely home-made gift for us which includes ingredients to make pasta (we love pasta!) and chocolate brownies! Also, she brought over some of her ‘rocky road’ from her Australia’s day treats! What a wonderful gift to receive as it was so thoughtful! She said that her mum back home in Australia would make wonderful food parcels wrapped in cellophane and it would contain utensils to cook them in with wooden spoons and bowls etc made specially for her family and friends. What a fabulous idea! I think it is always nice to receive gifts which are home-made as they tend to be the most thoughtful.

Last year, I made my team some home-made treats for Xmas, which included some marble cake, pisatchio & cranberry shortbread biscuits and some truffles! It did take a long time to prepare although I do find it very rewarding when they opened their treats with such delight!! πŸ™‚

Saturday’s Night in!

Pre - Bake Chicken and Chorizo

Pre – Bake Chicken and Chorizo

My friend, April is coming round to our house to stay over this weekend and I wanted to make an easy dinner where I don’t need to spend much time in the kitchen. I immediately thought of Nigella’s spanish chicken with chorizo and potatoes tray bake as you can put everything onto the one tray and just cook it in the oven! I like to marinate my chicken pieces at least over night so that is flavoured before using the actual receipe. Nigella’s receipe can be found hereΒ http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/spanish-chicken-with-chorizo-and-potatoes-5160. It is quick to prepare and you don’t need to buy any special ingredients for this, most you should have already at home. This is a nice tray bake for sharing with friends and I served this with a mixture of green vegetables.

I served the blueberry coulis on the side but you can drizzle this on the top!

I served the blueberry coulis on the side but you can drizzle this on the top!

I feel that if you have got friends coming round for dinner, you have got to have a nice dessert! πŸ™‚ I did ask April before if she prefers chilled desserts or cakes and she preferred something chilled. When Christine published her post about making mini blueberry cheesecakes, I thought this was perfect to make as they looked so dainty!!! The only snag was that I don’t have a mini cheesecake pan but she said that you can use a muffin tin with cupcake cases which is what I did! With the receipe, you had to take the filling out of the Oreo biscuits, I removed the cream by using a palette knife to scrape it off and it took 5 minutes for the whole packet. I was slightly anxious as to how it would taste because it was my first time baking them and I have no idea how it was going to turn out. With cooking, you can always fix your dish by tasting as you go along but with baking, it is completely different. You just hope that it will taste nice and that it is not going to be bland or for the cake to be still raw when you cut it!! My cheesecake was delicious! April said they were ‘amazing’ so I was really pleased!! πŸ™‚ There were really quite morish and addictive to eat! I have got such a sweet tooth that I helped myself to another half and gave the other half to my hubby! πŸ™‚ If you don’t like blueberries, you can always substitute for another fruit like strawberries or raspberries.

Here is the linkΒ http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2013/01/mini-blueberry-cheesecakes.html#more to make Christine’s Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

Oreos in the food processor

Oreos in the food processor

Oreos pressed in the cupcake cases using a back of a spoon

Oreos pressed in the cupcake cases using a back of a spoon

i used an ice cream scoop for each of the fillings

i used an ice cream scoop for each of the fillings

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Baked

Baked

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!! :)

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! πŸ™‚

Wishing everybody a Happy Valentine’s Day! I follow Ina Garten’s blog and she mentioned that there’s something so generous and satisfying to cook dinner for someone you love and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity...I totally agree with her!!! In the past, we would usually book a restaurant for Valentine’s Day for dinner which is nice but it is all very commercial and you find that the menu choices are pretty limited and over-charged!! Also, the tables are placed quite close together so it is always tricky to have a nice chat. Now, we are just taking in turns to cook Valentine’s dinner at home, I do prefer this because you are not mixed with other people and it is nice to get food cooked with love!!! May sound cheesy but I think the food taste nicer as you know that someone has put that extra effort in thinking about what to cook and of course executing it. When I bake my cakes, it always nice to get compliments and it just makes me happy! πŸ™‚

Lemon Sole, Potatoes and Veg

Lemon Sole, Potatoes and Veg

This year, it is my hubby’s turn and he has cooked me a lemon dover sole & shrimps with vegetables and potatoes. Originally, he wanted to cook me a monk fish in red wine sauce which is pretty different because fish is normally cooked with white sauce. But, unfortunately, Waitrose sold out and he had to change his menu!! Bless! As he was worried that the fish looked a bit light… I offered to make a starter with parma ham and melon with rockets, something easy to put together without minimum effort! My dinner was yummy! πŸ™‚

Parma Ham, Melon & Rockets

Parma Ham, Melon & Rockets

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I will be making dessert and I spotted in Jo Wheatley’s book – Valentine’s chocolate shortbread hearts. I baked the biscuits in the morning and assembled everything after dinner and it was delicious!! So simple to make and quick although I think I still need to practice my piping skills as it looks slightly messy! πŸ™‚

As I have taken the day off today, I thought I would leave my team at work some lovely Valentine treats courtesy of Ina’s White Chocolate Bark receipe! πŸ™‚ So simple to make and ……

White Chocolate Bark Receipe:

  • 350g white chocolate chopped up
  • 30g pistachio or Walnuts or any nuts you like
  • 30g dried apricots – diced
  • 30g dried cranberries – diced
  1. Melt 300g white chocolate in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds and keep going with 30 seconds until the chocolate has just melted. Add the remaining 50g of the chocolate into the bowl and keep stirring until all has melted. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
  2. Meanwhile switch on the oven to GM4 (350 degree) and toast the nuts for 8 – 10 minutes. Dice your dried fruits.
  3. Line a tray 8 x 10 inch and draw with a pencil. Then flip the baking parchment over but make sure you can still see the outline. Pour the chocolate in the middle and then use a spoon to push it out to the edge.
  4. Sprinkle the nuts and dried fruits and leave to set. I left mine overnight to set.
  5. Cut into 16 pieces and put 2 pieces together back to back and wrap in a cellophane gift bag and tie a nice cute ribbon.
Melting the white chocolate in the microwave

Melting the white chocolate in the microwave

Pour the choc in the middle

Pour the choc in the middle

Use a spoon to spread the chocolate to the edge

Use a spoon to spread the chocolate to the edge

Add your toppings and leave to set

Add your toppings and leave to set

White Choc Bark gift- wrapped!

White Choc Bark gift- wrapped!

HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A LOVELY VALENTINE’S DAY! πŸ™‚

HAPPY PANCAKE DAY!!!

Happy Pancake Day!

Happy Pancake Day!

It’s PANCAKE DAY / SHROVE TUESDAY Today!!! I do wish they would franchise IHOP (International House of Pancakes) Restaurants here in the UK but you can only find the branches in America! They make the best pancakes! If you ever visit America, make sure to find an IHOP branch to experience their pancakes, you get such a good value for your money and the serving is massive!!! πŸ™‚

I love using Nigella’s instant pancake mixture. I saw her receipe on TV and thought what a great idea to have access to pancakes at anytime!!! I would mix all the dry ingredients and pour them into a big jar and keep it in my kitchen. 1 cup of pancake mixture would make aboutΒ  12 – 15 mini pancakes and they are so delicious and yummy!! Very light and fluffy texture! πŸ™‚

Here’s her receipe and just mix it altogether:

  • 600g plain flour
  • 50g baking powder
  • 2 x teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 x teaspoon salt
  • 50g caster sugar

When you do want to munch pancakes either for breakfast, dinner or as a dessert, use the following receipe to make 1 batch:

  • 1 cup of pancake mixture (150g)
  • 1 egg
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter (or you can use Flora Cuisine) into the batter and whisk everything
  • Also, for you can add a 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra flavouring!
Frying the pancake

Frying the pancake

Spoon the pancake mixture onto a flat pan, no need to add oil and cook for 2 – 5 minutes until nice and golden! As I can only fit 2 – 3 pancakes in my pan, I don’t want them to go cold so I would warm up the oven GM3 (160C) and once the pancakes are cooked, put them into a ovenproof dish and serve when I have used all the mixture!

Ready to flip when you see bubbles

Ready to flip when you see bubbles

Blueberry sauce

Blueberry sauce

For the topping, Nigella uses blueberry syrup which consists of 125ml maple syrup and 200g of blueberries. All you need to do is boil them a pot so that they merge together as a sauce.

If you don’t want to use maple syrup as this is quite sweet, you can just boil the blueberries with 2 x tablespoon of water and 2 teaspoon of sugar. If you squeeze some lemon juice, this enhances the blueberries. Also, I found that just using 1 packet of blueberries which normally measures 125g is sufficient to make the sauce for 2 – 3 people.

There are lots of ideas for pancake toppings, you can squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle some sugar or you can spread jam or nutella, banana and cream, add golden syrup, the list is endless! πŸ™‚

HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL PANCAKE DAY!!Β πŸ™‚

Chinese New Year – Snake Year 2013!

I would like to wish all my family and friends a Happy Chinese New Year – Gong Hay Fat Choi!!! Hope this year brings you all happiness, love, good health and prosperity! πŸ™‚ Today, I have invited my mum over for dinner and we are just going to have a nice family cooked meal at home!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

This morning I made some Lemon Almond Cookies and Coconut Pudding as I saw the receipes from Christine’s Blog http://en.christinesrecipes.com/, she is from Hong Kong but lives in Australia. I love following her as they are so easy to follow and has great photos aswell! Also, I have never really been into Chinese cooking, even though I am Chinese so she has been quite an inspiration to me!! When I was younger, I didn’t take much notice of my parents cooking and only began to be interested when I moved out!! Now, when my mum cooks, I always ask her questions and try to gain her knowledge in Chinese cooking!! I will be taking some of the delightful treats to work tomorrow so that they can try some! πŸ™‚

Family CNY Dinner!

Family CNY Dinner!

Tonight’s dinner, I made lamb chops with some green veg and my mum made steamed sea bass! I don’t normally steam my food in cooking so it was great to see how she did it and plus I never really cooked a whole fish (head & tail) at home, usually we would buy the fillets! She steamed the fish with garlic and spring onions and poured some hot oil and soya sauce! Fish has a very special place in the Chinese New Year menu as it symbolises abundance so with the head and tail, this brings a good beginning and end to the New Year!

Hope you all had a lovely meal with your family! πŸ™‚

Lemon Almond Cookies – you can find the receipe here – http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2013/01/lemon-almond-cookies-chinese-new-year.html. Although my slices are not as tiny as it was quite difficult to cut 0.5cm for each one!

Cookie

Rolled and wrapped in cling film

Rolled and wrapped in cling film

Before

Before

Cooling

Cooling

Coconut Pudding – you can find the receipe here – http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2009/01/chinese-new-year-coconut-pudding.html#.URge9nJWySo Note: Raw Sugar – I used demerara sugar.

Mixture

Mixture

Before

Before

After

After

 

My entry for Jo’s comp – Flatbreads

My entry pic for Jo's flatbread competition!

My entry pic for Jo’s flatbread competition!

As Jo’s competition deadline is on Monday 11th Feb, I thought I better get a crack on making the halloumi and chilli flake flatbreads! I did make them a couple of weeks ago but couldn’t work out why they were very sticky!! This time round, they were better, thinner but still very sticky! My kitchen was an absolute mess as the dough was sticking to the work top, my hands…everywhere!!! In the receipe, it would say to roll the dough into a disc like the size of a saucer, mine were not quite that size as I felt when I rolled them out, it was sticking to my work top and then I wouldn’t be able to lift them off!!

Once on the griddle pan, they fried quite nicely, they had the texture of a pitta bread as it puffs up. I made a mixed bean bake and brought some dips to go with this and it was delicious!! I did worry that my hubby wouldn’t like today’s dinner as it didn’t contain any meat but he really enjoyed the food so I was very pleased! πŸ™‚

Here’s the receipe if you are interested in making these flatbreads and if you can solve the issue of the ‘stickiness’ please let me know!!!

  • 300g Self Raising Flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 80g halloumi, crumbled
  • Chilli – infused oil to fry

Tip the flour, baking powder and salt into a food processor. Then add the greek yoghurt and chilli flakes and whizz until the dough comes together.

Please bear in mind that when I made this, my dough felt wet and sticky which I don’t think is right?! Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. I had to use a fair bit of flour to make the mixture not so sticky! Mix the crumbled halloumi into the dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece to a size of a saucer. Heat your griddle pan over a medium heat and brush with the chilli oil and the fry the flatbreads for 3 – 5 minutes so that each side is golden brown.

Sticky dough!

Sticky dough!

Dough

Rolling them out

Rolling them out

Frying the flatbreads on the griddle pan

Frying the flatbreads on the griddle pan