Thursday, 26 April 2012

Chilli and Lime Scallops Spaghetti




Having recently acquired a taste for scallops, it is only natural and partly the duty of a food blogger to try to add scallops to my cooking repertoire.

Fresh scallops are quite the rarity in Kuala Lumpur, unless of course I’ve been looking for them in the wrong places, like many other things, which is a flaw I’ve become accustomed to. A couple of months ago, I rang my mother in excitement having apparently discovered a supermarket which sold fresh scallops, only to realise later on that they were actually fishballs. 



How does one confuse fishballs for scallops? Seriously, even I can’t answer that question.

Anyway, I soon realised that I would have to make do with frozen scallops if I was ever going to get around to cooking some. Having never cooked them before, I was naturally quite wary as it’s quite a finicky ingredient to play around with. The last thing I want to do is to undercook seafood but at the same time overcooked scallops are disgustingly rubbery. 


I found this no-frills recipe on my current favourite food website BBC Good Food and adapted it to make into a more substantial meal. This fuss free Chilli and Lime Scallops Spaghetti recipe uses only a handful of ingredients but produces a delicious, fresh and zesty meal which paid homage to these wonderful scallops.


* The only thing I would do differently would be to sear the scallops in a very very hot pan to get the wonderful golden brown crust. After doing some research I’ve realised that the pan has to be so hot that you should be able to see a bit of smoke.




Chilli and Lime Scallops Spaghetti

Adapted from BBC Good Food


Serves 2

Ingredients


8-12 scallops, depending on the size
1 tbsp olive oil +1/2 tsp butter
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
Juice of one lime
½ tsp sugar
Salt & pepper
Spaghetti, enough for two people
Chopped coriander, optional 

Method 

  1. Season scallops with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook spaghetti according to instructions on the packet.
  3. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  4. Heat non stick pan until hot and add butter and olive oil.
  5. Sear scallops for 20-30 seconds on each side until golden.
  6. Once scallops are flipped, add garlic and chilli.
  7. Cook for about a minute then add the lime juice and sugar. Add the spaghetti into the pan and toss until well mixed.
  8. Finish the dish off with chopped coriander and serve immediately.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Grapefruit and Orange Salad



You’d think that having grown up in Malaysia I would have become accustomed to the exotic tropical weather by now.  I still find it a pain to carry an umbrella with me, for you never know when the sun might blaze down on you, nor do you know when the heavens might open up on you, drenching you in an instant.

For the past week or so, the weather has been a lot more temperamental than it is usually. For most of last week, it rained and rained. Torrential rain together with lots of thunder and lightning. Perfect weather to eat lots of comfort food, curl up in bed and watch re-runs of Mad Men. And then Mr Sun decided to come to play.  Hot, humid, sticky weather which requires one to have numerous showers a day, drinking lots of iced water and living in my shorts and tank top.
I always find that the heat reduces my appetite tremendously and more often than not you’ll find me nibbling on little bits of salad or fruit to keep me going. So for days as such, this salad is the perfect meal!

This Grapefruit and Orange Salad is packed full of vitamins and flavour and just bursts with citrus-y goodness! It’s light and fresh and takes minutes to throw together. The addition of pistachio nuts, gives this salad a crunch and contrasts wonderfully with these citrus segments. The mint leaves add a lovely grown up touch to this salad, but if you’re not too keen on fresh mint, leave them out! The dressing is a lovely amalgamation of the excess citrus juices mixed with a small amount of honey which cuts through the acidity of the grapefruit.

So whenever you’re struggling with the heat, wherever you are, think of this salad and whip it up immediately, you’ll be thanking me. Trust me!


Grapefruit and Orange Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large grapefruit, segmented
1-2 oranges, segmented
A handful of Pistachio nuts
A handful of mint leaves
½ tsp honey

Method
  1. Refrigerate the fruits for a few hours prior to preparation.
  2. Prepare the grapefruit and orange by segmenting it, and ensure that all the grapefruit pith is removed, as it is very bitter.
  3. Save the excessive juice and tip it into a small bowl. Mix the honey with the juice and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle pistachio nuts over the segments of grapefruit and orange and give it a quick mix.
  5. Plate the fruits and decorate with mint leaves.
  6. Lightly drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saffron Infused Fish Pie



Do any of you lovely bloggers find it rather difficult to get your blogging mojo back after a period of absence? I do, and I tend to over think my posts resulting in numerous drafts being unceremoniously transferred to the recycling bin.
So after a number of back to back dessert (read: CAKE posts) it’s only makes sense that I share a relatively healthy recipe. Saffron Infused Fish Pie. Already sounds deliciously inviting doesn’t it!

A fish pie is a traditional British recipe where a variety of seafood is layered out onto a dish which is then covered in a creamy white sauce, after which topped with a thick layer of luxurious mash. To add my own twist to the well loved pie, I infused the saffron in the cream sauce to give it a richer depth of Asian flavour that can only be achieved by the subtle tones of saffron.



Fish pies are comfort food which can be indulged in at any time of the year. The choice of seafood is entirely up to you and what you are comfortable with. This time around I used white fish, salmon and fresh prawns. But you can always up the ante by using scallops, mussels, crab meat and the likes!



Now moving on to my saffron story; Saffron, as we all know, is probably the most expensive spice in the world and is worth more than gold in weight! However I got lucky on my trip to India last year, and found a number of spice vendors in Darjeeling who were selling 10 little pots of saffron threads for 100 rupees, which is about RM 6, which is about £1.50, which is about $2.50 USD! Ridiculous or what!



Remember when you're slathering on the mash, to create fluffs as I like to call it, where bits of mash stick up, so when the pie is being cooked in the oven, these jagged edges get nice and crispy!



So there you have it, a delectable fish pie with a bit of a posh twist!

Saffron Infused Fish Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

Filling 

1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
70 g butter
70 g plain flour
500 ml milk 
10 saffron threads
100 g prawns, de-shelled and de-veined
500 g - 700 g mixed fish, cubed
Freshly grated nutmeg
Bunch of parsley, chopped

Topping (mash)

500 g potato, cut into chunks
200 ml milk
6 garlic cloves
Zest of one lemon

Method
  1. Prepare mash by boiling potatoes and garlic cloves. Once potatoes are soft, add the milk and lemon zest and mash until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
  2. For the filling, start by infusing the milk (500 ml) with saffron threads by simmering it over a low heat.
  3. When bubbles start to appear, add onions, bay leaves and fish and poach for 6-8 minutes.
  4. Remove fish and strain the milk and set aside.
  5. In a pan, melt butter and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Add the poaching milk, a little at a time, and stir until fully incorporated. Continue to add milk until a smooth sauce is obtained. Add more milk if needed.
  6. Return to heat and simmer for a few more minutes. Add the chopped parsley, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Arrange poached fish in an oven proof dish and scatter prawns all over evenly. Pour the sauce over the fish.
  8. Finally coat the pie with mash. Rough the tops and dot with dollops of butter.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes at 200C in a pre-heated oven, or until the pie turns golden brown.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Blueberry Jam Butter Cake with Sprinkles

I am back after a 2 week hiatus due to an ever increasing workload which resulted in me falling ill and had to take a couple days off which in turn increased my work load even more. It’s a vicious cycle I tell you!

So before this hiatus gets any longer, I present you this magnificent cake I made for my cousin’s birthday a few weeks ago. She wanted a tall cake. That was her only request. The rest was up to me. So with the challenge accepted, I made...


A three layer butter cake layered with buttercream and blueberry jam and covered with ombre sprinkles.
Bloody hell, that was a mouthful wasn't it!

Oh before I forget, I have to point out that I made the ombre sprinkles from scratch! It was a breeze to make and I'm glad I've added it to my baking reportiare. It's the perfect way of adding colour to cakes and healthier than the average pot of sprinkles as you know exactly what goes into it! The process is really simple although you do need 24 hours for the sprinkles to dry! However, the storage process is simple - just store it in a air tight container or jar and you're good to go! These sprinkles last up to 3 months which is definitely a plus point!

I used my mother's trusted butter cake recipe which always is a guaranteed crowd pleaser The cake held its shape and paired well with the blueberry jam and plain buttercream. However the one thing I would do differently in the future would be to increase the amount of buttercream slathered on between each layer to create more defined layers and also because everyone loves a huge slice of cake smothered in icing, right?
This was my first attempt at making a layered cake and I must say I think I did pretty good job. Admittedly I did get a bit of help with the frosting from mum because I was certain the layers wouldn't be stable enough because of the measely amount of buttercream I used. There was the fear that I would be left with a horrible lopsided cake which would result is me dashing to the nearest bakery for an emergency birthday cake. I panic too much because the end result was beyond satisfactory and the cake held it shape throughout the night before being devoured in some sort of cake frenzy! Needless to say my cousin the height and colour of the cake and I think so did everyone else!




Blueberry Jam Butter Cake with Sprinkles

Makes one 18 cm round cake

Ingredients

113g self raising flour
113g sugar
113g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk

Method
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.
  3. Add the vanilla and milk.
  4. Finally add in flour and mix until incorporated.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes.
Assembly 
  1. Bake three layers of the cake and leave to cool completely.
  2. Prepare a crumb coat. Start assembly by crumb coating the first layer. Slather on a generous portion of blueberry. 
  3. Place the second layer on top of the jam and cover with crumb coat.
  4. Repeat until the layers are complete.
  5. Now frost the cake with icing of your choice.
  6. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes if you find the icing starts to melt.
  7. Decorate cake with design/pattern of your choice.


PS: I haven't included the recipe for homemade sprinkles in this post but if anyone is interested, leave me a comment and I'll be more than happy do a post on it! :)