Friday, December 19, 2014

Crispy Chinese Roasted Pork Belly Recipe

Crispy Chinese Roasted Pork Belly

This is the nicest crackling I ever had. Really crispy, no chance of breaking my teeth. And the meat had a fantastic flavour. Soy, garlic, miso and five-spice powder all worked well together and produced a good result.

I have made crispy pork using different methods but the method suggested in the recipe, pouring boiling water over the skin, did miracles.

Adopted from Kylie Kwong’s recipe, posted on The Guardian

Crispy Chinese Roasted Pork Belly

800g boneless pork belly, skin on and scored
500ml boiling water
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon salt flakes

For the marinade
2 tablespoons brown rice miso paste
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1.      Place pork belly, skin-side up, on a wire rack over the sink. Pour over boiling water to scald the pork skin. If possible, try to avoid hot water getting on the meat as it will cook it slightly
2.      Dry the skin with kitchen paper and place pork, uncovered, in the refrigerator for two hours.
3.      Remove pork from fridge and place, skin-side up, on a chopping board. Using the tip of a sharp knife, stab the pork skin repeatedly until the surface is covered with holes, being careful not to go all the way through.
4.      Make some horizontal slits on the sides of the belly, then insert each garlic and push them deep in so they don’t burn.
5.      Turn the pork belly over and make cuts about 2cm apart and 1cm deep.
6.      Combine marinade ingredients. Rub marinade evenly over the flesh side of the pork (not the skin) and massage well into the cuts.
7.      Place pork, skin-side up, on a wire rack (this same rack will be used for roasting the pork, so make sure it is ovenproof and fits inside a roasting tin) and place over a tray or large plate to catch any drips. Place in refrigerator and leave pork uncovered overnight
8.      The next day, bring pork to room temperature and heat oven to 150°C/300°F
9.      Transfer pork and wire rack to a roasting tin. Rub skin well with the sesame oil, then scatter salt all over. Roast for 1½–2 hours or until tender (to test, pierce the meat with a skewer – you should meet no resistance).
10.  Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/430°F and continue roasting for 15 minutes.
11.  Remove pork from oven and allow to rest, uncovered, in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Texas Quorn Chili with Spinach Recipe

Texas Quorn Chili with Spinach

Recently I received a bag of Quorn mince to try. Quorn is a meat substitute. According to the Quorn website, “Quorn products main ingredient is Mycoprotein which is a nutritionally healthy protein source. Mycoprotein is produced by a process of fermentation similar to that used in the fermentation of yeast in bread.” This didn’t make too much sense to me, so I consulted Wiki. Here’s wiki’s explanation:

“Quorn is made from the soil mould Fusarium venenatum strain PTA-2684. The fungus is grown in continually oxygenated water in large, otherwise sterile fermentation tanks. Glucose and fixed nitrogen are added as a food for the fungus, as are vitamins and minerals to improve the food value of the product. The resulting mycoprotein is then extracted and heat-treated to remove excess levels of RNA. The product is dried and mixed with egg albumen, which acts as a binder. It is then textured, giving it some of the grained character of meat, and pressed either into a mince resembling ground beef; forms resembling chicken breasts, meatballs, and turkey roasts; or chunks resembling diced chicken breast.”

So Quorn is produced by growing fungus in water, then it is mixed with egg whites. I suppose Quorn is quite different from laboratory grown beef.

I decided to use the fungus and egg white mixture (aka Quorn) to make Texas chili. It turned out OK. The Quorn was too soft. It felt slightly mushy but held together, if that makes sense. Quorn definitely looked like minced meat, but didn’t really feel or taste like it. However strong sauces will mask the taste, so you won’t know whether you are eating Quorn or meat.

Quorn, or other meat substitutes, don't necessarily have to taste or feel like meat, as long as it tastes delicious on its own. For example, tofu's texture is nice (debatable). Unfortunately Quorn's texture was not appealing to me, I would rather eat tofu, other vege or meat.

Adopted from

300 g Quorn mince
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
200 g crushed tomato
100 grams spinach, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon soya sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoon vegetable fond
1 tablespoon Hickory liquid smoke
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili spice mix
0,5 lime (juice)
Salt and pepper

1.      Heat olive oil in a casserole over medium heat
2.      Add all vegetables, except spinach, and cook until softened
3.      Add the rest of the ingredients, except the Quorn and spinach, and cook covered for 10 - 20 min.
4.      Add Quorn, reduce heat and simmer for maximum 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, add spinach. Add water if it looks too dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Texas Quorn Chili with Spinach

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cheesy Tuna Pasta Casserole Recipe

It is often said that fish and cheese don’t go well together. Mornay is mentioned is an exception. This cheese tuna casserole is another exception. The dish is hearty and delicious, great for cold weather.

The list of ingredients below is really long. Don’t get alarmed or put off by. And the recipe is quite simple, even though it may seem complex. There are a number of processes involved but all simple and well worth the effort.

I will upload photos of the dish in a week when I have access to my camera.

12 oz. dry pasta (any pasta will do)
1 cup onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 med carrots, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup + 2 tablespoon flour
4 cups milk
1 cup low sodium, nonfat chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more or less to your liking)
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-5 oz. cans of tuna, drained and flaked
15 crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon oil

1.      Cook the pasta according to package directions, but two minutes less than the recommended cooking time. Drain and set aside.
2.      In a large nonstick pan over medium high heat, add one tablespoon oil and saute onion, celery, and carrots until soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for a minute.
3.      Add frozen peas and thyme, take off heat and set aside.
4.      To make the sauce, melt butter on medium high heat in a saucepan. Add flour and whisk. Cook for one minute while whisking. Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Add chicken broth. Cook until it thickens, stirring constantly. Take off heat and season with salt and pepper.
5.      Add mustard and cheese to the sauce and mix well. Add tuna, pasta and vegetables and stir to combine.
6.      Pour the mixture in a greased 13" x 9" baking pan. Sprinkle with crushed crackers. Bake at 190°C/375°F for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coconut Sesame Seed Biscotti Recipe

Coconut Sesame Seed Biscotti

This is almost a very healthy biscotti, as long as you forget that it contains white flour and sugar. All the rest of the ingredients are good for you. This made me feel less guilty when I ate one too many!

If you don’t like either coconut or sesame seeds, substitute one for the other, in the same amount.

Coconut Sesame Seed Biscotti

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup sesame seeds
2 eggs
¾ - 1 cup sugar (original recipe suggests 1 cup, I prefer less)

1.      Heat the oven to 160°C/325°F
2.      In a bowl, mix flour, rolled oats, coconut and sesame seeds.
3.      In another bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until sugar has completely dissolved. 
4.      Add the flour mixture and mix until just blended. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
5.      Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space the dough evenly apart and form into logs.
6.      Bake until lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
7.      Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into ¼ - ½ inch thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prior to making and eating this dish, I don’t think I had ever tried a pumpkin dessert before.  Considering the popularity of pumpkin desserts, I had always been really curious to see what all the fuss was all about. The Pajama Chef blog has a number of pumpkin desserts so it was a great opportunity for me to finally bite the bullet.

I love cheesecakes but the idea of having a pumpkin cheesecake sounded a bit unappealing to me. However I was very pleasantly surprised. Far from unappealing, it was outrageously delicious. The pumpkin flavour was subtle but present, it was just enough. The texture was amazing, soft and silky. Pumpkin added a nice creaminess, as well as a pleasant yellow color. While eating the cheesecake I got reminded of dulce de leche, not sure why. Maybe cooked pumpkin and cream cheesecake has a slight dulce de leche flavor or aroma. Or maybe my senses went astray.

The recipe suggests cooking the cheesecake in a water bath. However I didn’t do this and it turned out fine.

Adopted from The Pajama Chef

Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
½ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
32 ounces cream cheese, softened
About 2 cups [15 ounces] canned pumpkin
4 eggs, at room temperature
2½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger

1.      In a food processor or blender, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and bake at 175°C/350°F for about 7 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
2.      Mix cream cheese and sugars until creamy. Add pumpkin and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well.
3.      In a small bowl, whisk together cream, vanilla and spices, then pour in the batter and mix until combined.
4.      Pour batter onto crust. Bake at 160°C/325°F for 55-65 minutes, or until edges are set and middle is slightly underbaked. Remove from oven and run a metal spatula around the rim of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. This helps prevent cracking. Let the cheesecake cool for about 20-25 minutes before covering and placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sumac Crusted Crispy Skin Salmon Recipe

Sumac crusted salmon

Sumac is a spice common to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has a slight lemony tangy flavor, hence it goes well with fish and other dishes that are complimentary to lemon.

Sumac crusted salmon is a very simple but flavourful and healthy dish. Its easy to prepare. I served it with coriander onion mashed potato.

Salmon Fillets

1.      Score the skin of the salmon fillets and season both sides generously with sumac. Chill for at least an hour (optional but recommended)
2.      Place a non stick frying pan over medium heat and add about a table of oil
3.      Season the salmon with salt on both sides and place skin side down in the frying pan
4.      Cook until the salmon is 75% cooked and the skin is crispy. The side of the salmon will start to change color. Once about 75% of one side has changed color flip and salmon and cook on the other side until the salmon is cooked to your preference. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes otherwise the salmon will be overcooked

Sumac crusted salmon

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