Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Soup

Whilst in Paris, our friend made us a delicious rhubarb crumble and it reminded me that rhubarbs do exist as they’re so underutilised. I was hugely intrigued by this Vietnamese soup from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ as to use rhubarb is by itself interesting but to use rhubarb in a savoury recipe is something I’ve never seen before. It seems that the authors added the rhubarb as a happy accident as they just had some rhubarb to use up. The rhubarb adds the sour element and then you get the sweetness from the pineapple. I bulked the soup out with some smoked tofu which also added some protein. I could only find tinned rhubarb but if you get the fresh stuff, do remember that the leaves are poisonous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin rhubarb
  • 160g pineapple
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the tomatoes

2.) In a casserole dish, heat up the oil and add the garlic

3.) Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, the sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a splash of water.

4.) Bring to the boil.

5.) Rinse the rhubarb and chop up the tofu, pineapple and the coriander leaves and spring onion,

6.) Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the water and the pineapple and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the tofu and rhubarb and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Season with the fish sauce

9.) Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander.

Smoked Tofu Salad

I am feeling particularly in the mood for spring after the sunny weather and visiting the Orangerie museum in Paris which houses many of Monet’s famous waterlilies. I was very much looking forward to seeing them after my attempt to reproduce a Monet in an art class. I highly recommend this museum, it’s amazing to see the full sized works of Monet and how what doesn’t look like much detail close up really makes the scene as a whole. I do think that Monet had the right idea just painting his garden everyday though unlike Monet, I hate gardening so I think I would have to get a house next to the sea or just paint cityscapes. Smoked tofu is just the best and this salad from the Hairy Dieters Go Veggie pairs it with orange, avocado, spinach and quinoa.

Serves 4 as lunch or 2 for dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 oranges
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Simmer the quinoa in some water until cooked. Drain and set aside.

2.) Peel the oranges and cut out the segments away from the pith.

3.) Slice the oranges up thinly and push the segments and the juice into a large mixing bowl.

4.) Add the spinach to the bowl.

5.) Slice up the spring onions and add these.

6.) Make the dressing by whisking up the mustard, olive oil, juice of 1/2 of the lemon and some salt and pepper.

7.) Peel the avocado and slice this up and add to the bowl.

8.) Add the quinoa. Pour over the dressing and mix everything up. Serve.

Smoked Salmon Souffles

I’ve just been on holiday in Paris and so whilst I was there I found this recipe called Le Souffle that I wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it was full and we couldn’t go but the idea to eat a souffle stuck in my head so it was the first thing I made after I came back from holiday. When I’ve made souffles in the past I tend to go for the cheese ones but this smoked salmon souffle recipe on the BBC Good Food website was lovely and light. I made these in a haphazard way, using the random collection of ramekins I have in my cupboard and they turned out ok. Serve as a starter or a light dinner with salad.

Makes 6

Ingredients

  • 40g butter (plus extra to butter the ramekins)
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 85g cream cheese
  • 2 tsp dill (actually I didn’t have any and they were still good)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g smoked salmon (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Butter 6 ramekins

3.) Chop up the dill and measure out the cream cheese. Zest half the lemon.

4.) Separate the eggs, put the egg whites into a large bowl.

5.) Melt the butter in a saucepan and once it’s melted add the flour. Stir into a paste and cook for 1 minute to cook off the flour taste,

6.) Gradually add the milk and whisk after each addition to get rid of all the lumps. Once all the milk is added, cook for another couple of minutes to thicken the sauce.

7.) Take off the heat and add the cream cheese and dill. Beat to incorporate.

8.) Move the mixture to a bowl to cool quicker.

9.) Whisk up the egg whites into stiff peaks.

10.) Chop up the salmon and add to the cream cheese mix. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest and mix everything.

11.) Half-fill a roasting tin with water.

12.) Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mix.

13.) Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, just below the top. Place the ramekins in the roasting tin.

14.) Bake for 25 minutes or so, until they’ve risen over the top, the egg is set and the top is brown.

15.) Serve with some extra salmon and maybe a dollop of creme fraiche.

Sushi Bake

For someone that deleted her facebook account as a self-birthday gift (self birthday gift – definitely using that one in the future), you can imagine my enthusiasm for Tik Tok. However, I found the recipe for this Sushi Bake on the blog ‘I am a food blog’ which had been trending on said social media platform. I am a food blog is a really great blog if a little too wordy for me and it’s obviously the first thing that comes up on a Google search ‘food blog’ so points for the name there. The sushi bake is assembled by cooking some rice, spreading it out into a casserole dish and topping with a mixture of cream cheese, crab and the Japanese seasoning Furikake (or togarashi – both work). Serve it with some seaweed on the side and the result is heavenly – I really think you could impress your mates with this one! I changed it up a bit by adding some crab paste to cheaply boost the crab flavour and fleshed it out with some fishsticks.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 225g sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g crab meat
  • 1 tin crab paste
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 100g kewpie mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp furikake seasoning
  • 1 pack seafood sticks
  • roasted seaweed

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C

2.) Boil the rice until tender. Drain off any excess water. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to the rice and mix to dissolve.

3.) Spread the rice out into a casserole dish and sprinkle with half of the furikake.

4.) In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, crab paste and mayonnaise and give it a good mix. Chop up the seafood sticks and add them to the bowl. Add the crab meat and gently stir.

5.) Spread the cream cheese mixture on the top and sprinkle on the rest of the furikake.

6.) Bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

7.) Serve with some seaweed.

Cherry & Rose Cupcakes

Rose might not be a flavour to everyone’s taste but I think the people that like it really love it. I definitely fall into that camp and actually rose was a very traditional flavour in the UK until it was usurped by vanilla. If you love the rose flavour too I highly recommend Zymurgorium Turkish Delight gin liqueur. Despite the name, it’s made in my hometown Manchester as symbolised by the bee on the label – the worker bee is the symbol of Manchester and can be seen all over the city. This recipe I found in Lola’s cookbook was actually for cherry blossom cupcakes but I thought that if rose pairs well with raspberry it can also pair well with cherry and I was happy with the result.

Makes 9 larger cakes or 12 smaller

Ingredients

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 95g butter + 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Morello cherry jam
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 500g icing sugar
  • rose water

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Melt the 95g butter in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds.

3.) Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

4.) In a stand mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon), beat the vanilla, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and beat afterwards.

5.) Add the flours to the mixture, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp rose water and beat until fully mixed.

6.) Heat up 90g morello cherry jam in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it a bit runnier. Stir the jam through the batter but leave swirls.

7.) Put the cupcake cases in the cupcake tin. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.

8.) Sprinkle the cakes with the almonds and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

9.) Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make up the icing.

10.) Melt 125g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften. Add to the bowl of the stand mixer, beat with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 tsp rose water.

11.) Warm up 75g Morello cherry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave and add to the butter.

12.) Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until fully combined. Sift in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until fully combined.

13.) Set up an icing bag with a nozzle and add the icing sugar. Chill in the fridge until the cupcakes have cooled.

14.) Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice the cupcakes by starting on the outside of the cupcake, following the outside then spiralling inward to a point.

Sprout & Lemon Risotto

Sprouts are super tasty when not overcooked and one of the vegetables we can actually grow in the UK so it’s a shame generally people only eat them at Christmas with a roast dinner. This recipe from Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty More’ is freshened up by using lemon rind and tarragon and made a bit special with delicious dolce Gorgonzola. Ottolenghi serves this with some fried quartered sprouts (300g) which I didn’t serve on this occasion but can only improve things even more.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • few sprigs thyme
  • 2 lemons
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 200g sprouts
  • 200ml white wine
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • 40g parmesan
  • 60g dolce gorgonzola
  • 10g tarragon
  • salt and pepper

Method

1. ) Peel and finely chop the onions. Chop the sprouts into shreds. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the onions. Start to fry until soft.

2.) While the onion is softening, peel and finely chop the garlic, strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and peel the skin from one of the lemons. With a small knife, scrape any pith that’s left on the lemon strips. Finely slice the lemon skin.

3.) Once the onion is soft, dd the garlic, lemon and thyme to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Measure out the wine in a measuring jug.

4.) Add the rice to the pan along with the sprouts and toast for 1 minute.

5.) Add the wine and let it simmer until mostly cooked off. In the meantime, make up the stock.

6.) Add the stock in ladleful’s until it’s all absorbed and the rice is soft with a bite. Zest the lemon and measure out the cheese. Grate the parmesan. Finely chop the tarragon.

7.) Once the rice is soft, add the cheeses, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Slice a lemon in half, remove the pips and squeeze in the juice from one half. Add the tarragon and stir.