Sunday, 18 December 2011

Pre Christmas Feast with a twist

One more week to Christmas day but the it seemed the celebrations started late November. My office is piled high with chocolates and my colleagues are having them as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thankfully I am not a fan of roses! There are the countless Christmas parties, drink parties and not to mention the horrific repetition of Christmas songs on the radio. Forgive me if I sound like Mr Scrooge. I love Christmas. I never had Christmas like the ones here until 10 years ago and I still love it. I can't wait for the actual day, turkey in the oven, flowing champagne, log fires, long leisurely walks, mulled wine in the local pub then, of course there are the presents. Sigh... only 1 more week to go....

But then again, there are always pre Christmas feasts. Apart from the office parties, what I love is being able to catch up with close friends and treating them to a lovely dinner to celebrate our friendships and exchange presents. This year, we had our friends over and I was wracking my head as to what to cook for them. Turkey was out of the question. My genius of a husband suggested 'Steamboat' or Hoptpot or the chinese name Fo Wo literally translates as Fire Pot. In Japan it is also called shabu shabu. 

It is the way the food is cooked in a pot with a light broth and it is placed in the middle of the table. There are a variety of raw food available and each person is responsible of cooking and finding their food. You will also have a variety of sauces to dip your food in. Sounds fun, yes it is! It is an incredible sociable way to eat. In Malaysia where I came from and in a lot of Asian countries, steamboat is very popular. We have air conditioned restaurant to street vendors selling a variety of these type of cooking. In a steamboat restaurant, we pay per person and you can choose the type of stock you want. They have clear chicken broth to spicy tom yum. Then it is a buffet and you help yourself to the raw food. Beware as you will have to finish the food you take or else they are charge by weight. 

The most creative of 'steamboat' I have been to was in Malacca and we went there with my parents. We queued for an hour because the restaurant was so popular. Here they named it Satay Celup literally translated as Satay dip. I am sure most of you are familiar with the term satay and had tried it. Skewers of meat dipped in peanut sauce. Well in this restaurant, the raw food are cooked in a satay sauce. Instead of a light broth in the middle of the table we were given a pot of hot thick bubbly satay sauce. We then were shown the array of raw ingredients from king prawns to fillet of lamb and beef. I was dubious as I thought the satay sauce would be sickly but it was absolutely and utterly delicious and very very moreish. It is light and yet full of flavour. 

Satay Celup
My brother with a big prawn
Array of raw ingredients

I wasn't that adventurous as I don't think I can achieve the consistency of the satay sauce of that restaurant so I prepared the normal steamboat my mum used to prepare at home. Something homemade and full of love. I don't do this every often as it involves a lot of ingredients and preparation. We had chicken, sole, salmon, cod, pork, frog's legs, beef, 2 types of tofu and vegetables. We took about 2 - 3 hours of eating. Finally, as the broth becomes an intense soup, we finished it with some egg noodles and nestled in between are a couple of poached Burford Browns. The perfect ending to a perfect steamboat!

My steamboat

If you are interested in making one, contact me and I will teach you. 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Weekend Baking

Busy busy busy...It has been a crazy couple of months. My brother decided to get married at a drop of a hat so I flew to Malaysia for 2 weeks early November. Then I came back to to Christmas songs, frantic presents buying and Christmas market! I have to say 'Hail Amazon'! I have done almost all my Christmas shopping online which does take out the Christmas spirit somewhat. So I decided to head out to Bath and brace the crowd. So did I get the Christmas spirit?? Not even an ounce! I got grumpy walking around town then decided to head to Yen Sushi. While having my favourite soft shell crab roll, I contemplate heading home, put my jim jams on and bake a cake! I did exactly that.

When I was young, I often asked my mum at weekends why is she always making something and not resting having worked the whole week. Now I understand. Cooking helps me relaxed. Creating something new is quietly exciting and watching your loved ones enjoying what you create is satisfaction and a great sense of achievement. So sod going out. I'd rather spend more time cooking.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did which I found in a Waitrose magazine adapted from the River Cottage cookbook. Thank you Hugh.

Apple and Almond Pudding Cake

Serves 8

25 g unsalted butter
1 1/2 granulated sugar
4 dessert apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices
1/4 ground cinnamon

150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
75g white or wholemeal self raising flour
75g ground almonds

1) Start with cooking the apples. Melt butter in pan and wait for it to sizzle. Add the sugar and stir until it bubbles. Add apples, sprinkle cinnamon, cook on medium heat for 5 minutes until slightly caramelized and tender but holds its shape. Remove from heat and cool.
2) Preheat oven to 170 degrees gas mark 3. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the basement with baking parchment.
3) Beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Break 1 egg into the mixture and beat well then add the second egg along with the almond extract. Add a spoonful of flour (this helps the mixture curding)
4) Fold in the almonds and the rest of the flour with a large metal spoon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and using the back of the spoon and smooth the surface.
5) Arrange the apples neatly ontop of the mixture along with any juices from the pan.
6) Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before releasing the tin.
7) I serve mine with creme fraiche but you can use double cream, greek yoghurt or custard.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ghosts and Ghouls Feast - 22nd Oct 2011

It seems like ages since we updated the blog, guilt is creeping in.... We have done so much  and have so much to write about and yet everyday is escaping us. But not today! Since we launched atCatharines, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have wanted to come to the dinners and by the people who wanted to have private parties at ours! So October was just mad and we have just had our Ghosts and Ghouls Feast this Saturday gone. Kat's house was adorned with spider webs (...we mean covered in the things!) It was worth it as it looked awesome and we had Tanya's skulls, lots of creepy twigs, brooms and pumpkins of all sizes that looked even more spooky in candle light. We stepped back at one point and looked at the room and dare I say, it looked bloody amazing!!!

Tanya and Matt Rich very kindly co host the dinner and they turned up armed with creepy music and black twigs! Then the doorbell rang and we had Carrie splattered with blood, murderous clowns, pirates, zombies, witches.. and with such efforts, we felt it was only fair to serve up a menu worthy of it.

Mouldy guacomole, charcoal crackers
Little mummy chipolatas 
Cloudy blood
Lightly spiced pumpkin soup in individual squash, red pepper oil, rosemary croutons
Homemade creepy black Cornish crab spaghetti
Braised shin of local beef, buttered kale
Treat and Treat Table (Poisonous toffee apples, lemon ghostly cupcakes, skeleton meringue with cream and raspberry coulis and chocolate mousse graves) 

As the night drew in, we had all sorts of antics going on in the room and it grew louder and louder. We threw our aprons away and hit the bottle with the rest of the group. I have to say Catherine L, your Gary Barlow impression wasn terribly impressive and absolutely hilarious!

We had a lot of fun guys, thank you for coming and making our night special! Now bring on the next ones. We do not have one in November but we have a drinks soiree in December where we will invite our past guests, local small businesses and our followers to join us for a tipple or two, mince pies and a chin wag so please look out for our invites.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

atCatharines - Saturday 24th September 2011

.....So on Saturday evening, with masks at the ready and freshly baked breadsticks stacked up, we welcomed another group of lovely, lovely people across the threshold atCatharines.

All in all we had a remarkably stress free day, after a little potato peeling in the sunshine on Saturday afternoon and a couple of white wine spritzas the actual cooking got off to something of a slow start with rather a lot of talk about how terribly well prepared we were (which, as it turned out wasn’t quite as accurate as we had originally thought).....   However, with the arrival of Vic from heyokah photography who rather terrifyingly came to take some ‘action shots’ the cooking started in earnest ... for Vic's sake we should probably mention that none of the pictures here are hers! (they are ours...mostly taken on phones!) 

Thankfully we were forgiven for having tried really quite hard to smoke all of the guests out of the house whilst sealing the lamb at really rather an early stage in proceedings, we cracked on and had a thoroughly fabulous evening!

The menu was as follows

Boozy Lemonade
Home made basil pesto and hummus with gruyere breadsticks

Pea risotto with crumbly goat’s cheese


Chilli & fig rack of lamb, with champ, and cabbage with chestnuts and pancetta

Pithivier of butternut squash, goat’s cheese and red onion marmalade (V)


Lemon Meringue Pie

Pecorino & port jelly

Chocolate macaroons and coffee

And there we have it! Dinner last Saturday, thank you so much to everyone who came for making it the great night it was! 

The next atCatharines will be on Saturday 22nd October, dust off those Halloween costumes, Pumpkins at the ready and we will see you for an evening of ghosts and ghouls. xx Cat & Kat 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Monday blues...

Ok it's Monday, wind is blowing a hundred miles an hour, computer is not working at work, car is nearly on empty, bank account depleting fast this month and worst of all, one of my best friends in Bath is leaving for Germany! It sure looks like the Monday Blues brigade is out in full force. Get a grip Catherine, I hear myself say.

Oh it was so far removed from the weekend just gone. Rewind 3 days. I finished work early on Thursday, met up with Tanya at Indulgence Cafe on Bathwick St run by Katherine Small. She fed us wonderful cakes and choc truffles. Andrew and I had taken the Friday off, went to Bicester for a spot of early Christmas shopping, dinner with our friends on Saturday then the Love Food Festival at Dryham Park on Sunday. Katharine cooked Sunday lunch and while the rain was pelting down on the roof atCatharines, we were dining on lamb with savoy cabbage and chestnuts, red wine followed by homemade chocolate macaroons and baklava bought from the festival. We then finished the evening with cheese and Katharine turned to me and said she began to understand my hatred of Sunday.

Fast forward to present time - Now where was I? Oh yes get a grip Catherine! I finished what I have to do at work, drove over to Lucknam and met Phyllis for a goodbye drink (She is leaving for Germany early tomorrow) then called my saint of a husband to get some ingredients for Thai Beef Salad. I thought if there is one thing in the world to cheer me up, its food.

Thai Beef Salad
12 Sept 2011

Serves 2

1 x Rib eye steak, seasoned with salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix:
2 x shredded carrots
1 x celery stick sliced
6 - 8 cherry tomatoes
handful of coriander, chopped
40g dry glass noodles (optional) Soak in bowl of hot water for 10 mins, drain and run under cold tap
1/3 cucumber, sliced

Juice of 1 lime
1 x tablespoons fish sauce
1 x hot birds eye chilli, sliced thinly
1/2 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar

Grill or pan fried beef 2 mins on each side. Set aside for 5 mins. Cook longer if you don't like your beef pink. Pour the dressing onto the bowl and toss. Slice beef. Either toss with the salad or put the beef on top of salad

Happy Cooking!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Cheap cheap dinners

I remembered a joke that my best friend told me when she was an air hostess for Singapore Airlines. She said that one of her male colleague said that whenever the plane touches down in Hong Kong, the whole crew turn into canaries. She asked why and he said its because all he can hear was cheap cheap cheap cheap!! Pretty lame I know but shopping in HK is cheap apparently. I have never been but my brother is moving there soon so who knows, I might experience the canary effect!

But before I do that, I got to save some money, not a trait I am particularly good with. Well I seem to gain a reputation of being a shopaholic among my family and friends but that is not really true. In fact Andrew said that I don't spend much! I love dressing up and I love my clothes, handbags and shoes ( I mean who wouldn't) but I am quite savvy with mine. I don't care where my clothes and accessories come from as long as I look good in them. I am not at all fussy with the provenance of my clothes not as much I care about food!

After a rather extravagant dinner on Friday at Coles (review, oh and the weekend before and before that, I thought I might just be a bit thrifty. Normally I would do a menu plan for the week. So I will use the same ingredients but cook them in different ways. However over the last month or so, the plans are frequently being obstructed by dinners out! So I have to be good. We went to Giles and Corinne's house and if you have been following my blog you will know that they are my lovely friends who has a greenhouse (still jealous but immensely grateful) They sent us back to Bath with spinach, lots of different varieties of tomatoes, parsley, Thai basil, chillies, mint, courgette flowers and yellow baby courgettes.

Thanks to these delicious free ingredients & leftover ingredients in the fridge, I kicked off my thrifty week with style. 3 meals so far and less than £10...

Spinach - Slow poached spinach in stock with egg flower
Thai Basil & chillies - Stir fry chicken with Thai basil and chillies

Parsley and tomatoes - Parsley in the moules mariniere and tomatoes in the homemade tomatoes & mozarella bread

Tomatoes, bacon lardons, yellow courgettes & deep fried courgette flowers pasta

And the mint, we made Mojitos out of those..hick!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Live to Eat....

Andrew is sitting next to me with a blanket and a bucket nursing a massive hangover! It is the biggest one yet he said. It is August Bank holiday and although it is almost over but thank god for today for I don't think he will make it to work. We invited a few of our  friends to come over for Sunday lunch. We spent Saturday shopping for the right ingredients. Great opportunity to go shopping for goodies. I have to say 80% of what we bought has nothing to do with the lunch. 

First stop, Farrington's Farmshop I have been there once and always liked the way the farmshop is laid out and its white and black branding. I didn't know what I want but in my shopping basket was tiramisu (for me of course, my favourite dessert), mutton chops, lamb sweetbreads, celeriac, potatoes and raspberry wine! I can't really make a meal out of what we bought, it is more like I really like that, I really like this, in it goes into the basket! Buy buy buy dahliiiing....

Next stop, Banthon Oriental Supermarket in Weston. Normally I get my ingredients from Wai Yee Hong in Bristol but I didn't want to go too far. I needed some dried cuttlefish for my steamed pork balls but they didn't have it but I didn't manage to walk out of there empty handed! We bought something totally non related to the lunch! Andrew suggested we tried the Oriental shop in town at the bottom of Thai Balcony. Andrew dropped me off near Kitchen Shop as we needed some bin bags! He then parked up (totally not the plan) as he spotted a food market in Queens Sq. We had half an hour, no harm in checking out the market! Well portion of paella, an ice coffee and £20 worth of French charcuterie (I went back for more today!) we thought we better go home before we bankrupt ourselves! 

See..they are distracting aren't they?! Coming back to the lunch, I finally got all the ingredients together and I made the following for Sunday lunch. 

Steam pork balls with homemade chilli and ginger sauce
Deep fried 'belacan' chicken wings
Laksa Lemak
Flourless chocolate cake

We started our lunch at 3pm, I must point out there were only 5 of us! 6 bottles of bubbly, 4 bottles of wine, countless mojitos, espresso martinis and midori sours later, Andrew fell down the stairs with a loud thud that we decided that we should stop drinking and go to bed. We also came to a startling conclusion that we do not eat to live, we work to live and we live to eat! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Comfort Food

I am absolutely pathetic when I get ill!! I had an infection early last week and only just gotten over it this week. The day I didn't go to work I spent the whole day in bed and felt so sorry for myself. I only want 2 things when I am ill, FOOD and MUMMY. Yes I am 30 and I still ask for my mum. The problem is she is 6,000 miles away so the only comfort for me is food.

But not any food, my comfort food is congee. Congee is a dish which base is rice, cooked with lots of water or stock so that it breaks down. You can add meat and vegetables in congee, much like the Italian risotto. It can be a meal on its own or plain congee with different dishes to go with it. I like Teochew Congee. The congee is plain and a little more watery than usual congees and my favourite dishes that go with it can include salted duck egg, omelette with preserved vegetables, deep fried black pomfret with thick soya sauce, stir fry pork with chillies and preserved vegetables and black bean fried dace. All these dishes are strong tasting to complement the plain congee. You get the sweetness from the preserved vegetables, crispiness from the fried pomfret, saltiness from the eggs, black beans and soya sauce and chillies to tingle your tastebuds! Apart from taste you get different textures. My mom always make congee when someone in our family is ill. To me it doesn't just taste like heaven but always remind me of home and brings me closer to my mum. At home whenever someone is ill, the most important is not medication, it is yes you guess it, food! I truly believe food makes someone feels better and the comfort of something familiar, something you crave is crucial to recovery! 

The picture above is unfortunately not mine as you can see. I found it from another blog to show you what congee is! I didn't manage to cook that great a congee and remember to take pictures in my pathetic state but I hope this gives you an idea.

 I want to ask you this...what is your comfort food?

Monday, 15 August 2011

A night to remember atCatharines...

Having been unceremoniously jolted back into the real world of work today, it seems an appropriate moment to revisit our fabulous dinner atCatharines on Saturday. More so over a glass of excellent Pinot Noir courtesy of Bernard and Vanessa.

First of all we would love to say a massive thank you to the 13 most wonderful dinner guests who all took a leap of faith and came to experience atCatharines on Saturday night. Just before our guests arrived we were shitting ourselves but as it turns out it was entirely unnecessary. From the moment we opened our door to our very first guests till the moment we closed it behind the last, there was a never ending  stream of laughter and chit chat so much so that it was hard to tear ourselves away. 

We started the evening with a glass of chilli dark and stormy (we manage to share it with everybody else...just) accompanied by some yummy canapes. We would like to thank Wiltshire Chilli Farm as they provided all the chillies used on this menu. Simply the best chillies we'd say! We even use it on our table decor, we love them that much!

 Menu for the night was as follows:

Salmon millefeuille 
Marinated cucumbers with chilli
Ginger chicken bites
Lettuce wrapped spicy pork
Malaysian chicken 'kari kapitan', steamed coconut rice, roti pratha
 Vodka and gin infused watermelon granita
Vanilla terrine, raspberry coulis, fresh berries and raspberry shards
Coffee and Kransakaka

We would be lying if we said that it was all smooth sailing. We had a couple of minor issues, luckily crisis was averted when we whipped away the plates having realized we had accidentally put prawn crackers on the plates of our two guests with shellfish allergies. No ambulances needed - result!

So there we have it, as we were putting out 13 empty wine bottles yesterday morning, we can only hope everyone made it home in one piece, it was a pleasure to meet everybody and we hope we sent them all home with full tummies and having had an enjoyable evening. We had a blast and cannot wait to host the next dinner atCatharines.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Chillies glorious chillies....

It has been a great start to the week. The weather has been glorious not too hot and I have the week off. I am gearing towards the event this coming Saturday 13th Aug, very excited indeed and I do hope my diners can take a bit of spicing up. Earlier last week, Wiltshire Chilli Farm contacted us and said they admire what we are doing so they would like to donate some of their produce for our event. The timing could not have been more perfect! I was absolutely overjoyed as I adored chillies. How much I hear you say? Hmmm what is the best way to describe it? I mean I am not crazy like rubbing chillies in my eyes which I once saw on Gordon Ramsay far east travels a few months ago! I mean that is just suicide. I'd rather enjoy them in my food. I would use chillies at least 3- 5 meals a week either as an ingredient or condiment. So when Wiltshire Chilli Farm said they will donate some of their produce, I was jumping for joy! So emails got exchanged and the owner said she will drop some by either tomorrow or Thursday! She was laughing at how excited I was and said and I quote 'LOL..Its just chillies'.

There are the 3 holy trinity of ingredients I have to have at home, garlic, ginger and chilli. With these three ingredients, you can always turn anything bland into something fragrant and interesting. I made this dish last night.

Mini Spicy Pork Patties, green mango and papaya salad & crushed honey peanuts

Pork patties
350 g minced pork
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (nam pla)
A dash of soya sauce
1 teaspoon of finely chopped chillies
1/2 teaspoon of palm sugar or sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
Note: Marinate for at least half hour, overnight is best

1/2 green mango julienne or shredded (must be very firm)
1/2 papaya julienne or shredded (must be very firm)
1/2 carrot julienne or shredded
Mix together
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of palm sugar or normal sugar
1 teaspoon chopped red chillies ( you can use bird's eye if you like it very hot)
Pour the dressing onto the salad. Set aside. Do this nearer the time about 15 mins before the pork is cooked
Handful of peanuts, crushed

1. Form the patties into circular shape about 5cm in diameter (you can have it bigger, just cook them longer)
2. Heat oil in pan, fry on medium heat
3. Give about 1 minute on each side to brown and then about 5 mins to cook through. Try by cutting the patties in half to check if unsure
4. Set cooked pork aside. This dish doesn't need to be served piping hot.
5. Assemble pork with some salad and top with crushed nuts

Another dish is dead simple which involves sexing up the humble fried egg (sunny side up). This recipe is so easy it can be done in under 5 minutes. You will need:

2 Eggs (Increase the quantity if you have more people)
1 spring onion and 1/2 red chilli (Finely chopped)
Dash of kecap manis ( you can find this in most supermarket)

1. Fry the eggs until they are still runny in the middle but crispy on the edges. Set aside
2. Fry the chopped spring onions and chillies until they are soft (about 2-3 minutes)
3. Sprinkle them onto the eggs. Then dash the kecap manis all over the eggs. Serve with plain boil rice!

As a simple condiment sliced either red chillies or birds eye chillies, dash enough soya sauce to cover. Let it infuse for 2 minutes and it is a great condiment to any rice or noodles dish!

As far as my collection of chilli sauces or stuff are concern here are some of my favourites. They all have their various uses and I don't want to bore you with details. If you do want to know send me a message :)

From back left: Thai sweet chilli sauce, Fussels Chilli oil, SriRancha chilli sauce, Maggi chilli sauce, Tean's crispy prawn chilli and Way On shrimps infused chilli oil

As I was just finishing this blog, my friend called and said that the riots that were terrorising London has spread to Bath. I told her not to worry as I have a hammer next to me and lots of chillies. God help them if they try to come anywhere near me! I might never rub chillies in my eyes but I will not hesitate even for a split second to rub it on those bloody good for nothing trouble makers!!!

Monday, 1 August 2011

True Provenance!

While I am writing this I am sitting in my kitchen frying some Malaysian curry paste for my dish tomorrow and I have a pink shower cap on with bow at the front! I mean I look ridiculous but hey I got my hair done today and I didn't want to smell like a walking bulb of garlic. The paste also contains you get the point...not good!

It has been a good weekend and Monday is always an anti climax! I go on and on about hating Sundays and yet Sundays are just the best especially these past few weeks! I was invited to friends over the past few Sundays and my have I been fed well! We were invited for a BBQ yesterday and we ended up sitting in their amazing garden for hours having wine, tapenade with goat's cheese, feeding on BBQ prawns, homemade cumin and Emmental bread (if you follow me on Twitter you will know my husband made it) and then came the spread of delightful assortment of home grown delights. Provenance is so IN at the moment. People love knowing where their food come from (whether they truly  give a shit, I am not sure) but when I made my way to their green house to pick on their Thai basil to put on the salad, I felt a twinge of jealousy but at the same time felt extremely lucky as my friends share the same passion as I do! still jealous as not only do they have a greenhouse that fills with tomatoes, assortment of herbs, they also have fruit trees, lettuces and lots of vegetables!

Homemade Cumin and Emmental Bread (Recipe is in Dough by Richard Bertinet pg 58). Andrew substitute it with Emmental cause we didn't have Gruyere.

Lovely salad with assorted herbs - fennel, parsley, Thai basil, all homegrown!

Jealous jealous jealous....;-)

Well I would have been stupid if I didn't utilise my friend's amazing array of goodies so I asked if I was able to pick the courgette flowers and attempt to make this dish which I tried in Rome so many moons ago! It is such an incredible feeling just picking on fresh produce. I was beside myself with excitement today as I attempted this dish. I so wanted to create the taste and texture of the ones I tried in Rome! If you are ever in Rome, head to the deli right opposite the Vatican Museum. I can't remember what it is called but it is an amazing deli and you can find this there. I have modified it slightly and this is my own adaptation.

Fresh from the garden!

 Recipe for my deep fried courgette flowers:

Courgette flowers (I had 9, from small to medium)
1 x ball of mozzarella
4 - 5 strips of anchovies
100 g self raising flour
Sparkling water
Note: Consistency of double cream
1 x tin tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon tomato puree
oil for frying

1) Wash them thoroughly to get rid of bugs
2)Cut mozzarella into small chunks and half the strips of anchovies
3)Stuff carefully inside the cavity of the flowers. Note: Dont worry that the petals are with holes, the batter will cover the holes and the cheese will stay within.
4)Where possible, twist the petals slightly to shut the flowers
5) Heat oil. I used a small frying pan with about 150ml of vegetable oil. As a utensil to move them about, the best is chopsticks (Use only if you are a master of chopsticks, if not tongs will do but be gentle)
6)When oil is hot enough, try with a bit of batter, dip the flowers with your hands and gently put into the oil. Fry until golden
7) Lift them up when ready, sprinkle with sea salt.

1) Chop garlic,  Fry with little oil
2) Pour the tin of tomatoes into the garlic
3) Add tomato puree
4) Blitz and then return to the hob, simmer for about 20 minutes until flavour intensified

Thank you Giles and Corinne for an amazing lunch and let me run riot in your garden! X

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The World of Dim Sum

I wrote on my earlier blogs how much I disliked Sundays whether I am having a good time or not. This Sunday is no different. I thought hi Sunday what can I do today to forget that your friend Monday is just round the corner? Andrew (my husband) suggested Dim Sum and we called this eating activity Dim Suming but usually Chinese called this activity 'Yum Cha' which means drinking tea.

Dim Sum are little dishes that consist of either fried or steamed meat, seafood or vegetables tasty morsels. These morsels are served either in bamboo steamers or small plates. The best way to describe them is  'Chinese tapas'. If you haven't  been Dim Suming before I will include in this blog the basic etiquette so that you won't feel overwhelmed and behave like a first timer on a Japanese sushi conveyor belt! Totally clueless! You should also take your time when eating dim sum over a cup of 'cha'.

In this country,when you sit down at the table you will find a piece of paper with either numbers or description of certain dishes. The dim sum menu is either on the table or the waiter will bring you one. You look at the menu, pick what you want and you tick and state the quantity on this paper next to the items. The waiter will come along, check the orders and leave a copy on your table. At this point, you order anything additional that you like. I would suggest that you order hot Chinese Tea. The logic behind it is that it helps digestion especially if some of the dim sum are fried. It helps cut through the fat. Well on this particular day we ordered the following. Please note that dim sum arrive at your table as and when they are ready. They don't arrive at the same time!
Deep fried yam paste with meat stuffing

Steamed 'Har Kau' (Prawn Dumpling)

Steamed Chicken's Feet with Black Bean & Chilli (Dont be afraid, they taste incredibly amazing)

Crispy Beancurd Prawn Rolls

In addition we also ordered the following..(this can be found on the normal menu as addition to your dim sum)
Roasted duck and crispy pork

Crispy Noodles with Seafood

Ermm.... on reflection, shouldn't have ordered that much but that is the beauty of dim suming. You should order loads as you can taste different morsels and whilst it is not common practice to takeway leftovers in say a tapas bar, it is perfectly normal in a dim sum restaurant, even encouraged!

Dim Sum is becoming increasingly popular in this country. There are several modern Dim Sum restaurants in London ie Ping Pong and the delectable Yauatcha. These places has taken the traditional Dim Sum eating, give it a twist and make it trendy combining it with fancy teas and scrummy cocktails.

Traditional Dim Sum is quite different. In Asia, when seated on your table, you will immediately notice the hustle and bustle of the place.  Instead of ordering the dim sum on a menu, waiters come along with a trolley full with different dim sums and you pick what you want. You just have to point at the array of tasty looking morsels. They put it down and tick the paper on the table. You then take the paper and pay at the counter when you finish. Simple! Unfortunately due to space issue in this country, it is difficult to replicate this :(

But there are a lot of lovely Dim Sum restaurants in this country. So go on, go dim suming today and if you want me to come with you, I am absolutely delighted to. But be warn, I order loads! If you want some recommendations, I am happy to direct you too :)