Friday, 23 August 2013

Rice with Chinese Five Spice Pork Belly - Video

Update: Thank you everyone who watched, liked and shared the video.  I truly appreciate it.  But unfortunately the video did not make it to the next stage :(  Not to worry though, I'm sure there will be other opportunity.  I also have a new video which will be uploaded very soon, so be sure to check it out.  Again, thank you and have a delicious day! x

Rice is a staple ingredient in my family... We eat it almost everyday and we buy it by the sackful... It makes sense because rice is indeed a great neutral carbohydrate to which you can cook and eat with many dishes... both savoury and sweet... Vanilla rice pudding with cinnamon-y stewed apples, anyone? :)

This time I want to share with you a lovely one pot (or wok, in my case) meal, that is, rice with Chinese five spice pork belly.  It's super quick to make, affordable and utterly delicious...

I adore Chinese five spice... It's a wonderful blend of spices including fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  And it is brilliant with pork belly.  Try rubbing the five spice on the pork belly rind with some salt and oil for your next Sunday roast... and you'll have amazing crackling, I promise.  My mouth waters just thinking about it...

Moving on... I cook the rice with homemade pork stock... and please do not panic!  It takes hardly any work to make...  If you get your pork belly from the butcher, do ask for some of the pig bones.  They are fantastic and they give wonderful sweetness to the stock.  Simply cover the bones with water in a pot and cook with a few couple of cloves of garlic, salt and black peppercorns (by all means add some carrots, onions, bay leaves and thyme if you want to go the whole shebang)... Let it comes to a boil and then simmer... carefully skim off any foam that comes to the top and voila... you have a pork stock.

Veg-wise I use pak choi, and you can use others... But I would suggest you use greens that can stand to the cooking and won't wilt to a mush... soft lettuces will not work here, but cabbage, kale or Swiss chard will be lovely.

This video is also my entry for Jamie Oliver's search for a food tube star competition.  I must say, filming a video for the internet is scary, and submitting it for a competition is just scary at a whole new level... but exciting at the same time :) I want to say a huge thank you to my friends Oflavia and Vincent for lending their cameras and talents... You guys are awesome.

I hope you will enjoy watching the video and I'd appreciate it if you can support me by hitting the 'thumbs-up' button on the channel.  Thank you so much in advance... Have a delicious day!

Rice with Chinese Five Spice Pork Belly
Recipe by Me

1 onion
4 red chillies
A small bunch of fresh coriander stalks
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 100 ml of hot water
200 grams pork belly, diced
2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
300 grams rice, rinse under cold running water until the water underneath runs clear
100 ml Shaoxing rice wine
700 ml pork stock or chicken stock
Baby pak choi
Fresh coriander leaves
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Monday, 12 August 2013

Lime and Rosewater Drizzle Cake

One of the things I miss most about England and working in an office is that ritual in the afternoon, around 3 o'clock, when my colleagues and I make ourselves a cup of tea or coffee.  And with our hot drinks we usually have something sweet, be it scones, rocky road, biscuits and on Fridays, we often have a slice of cake or two.

This past week, I really fancy a cake to go with my afternoon tea.  In this currently very hot weather, chocolate cake I think would just be too rich (you read that right and obviously I didn't mean it).  I wanted something fresh, so I decided to bake a lemon and rosewater drizzle cake.

I went to the market and I was shocked that I couldn't find any lemons... not a single one.  I went to another market and same thing happened.  I was disgusted (totally a first world problem).  But this didn't stop me from baking... I just have to improvise and use the next closest citrus... lime.

And it worked brilliantly! The cake is just what I wanted... light and fresh.  And the sharpness from the lime syrup with the perfume-y rosewater is beautiful.  I happen to absolutely love rosewater... The recipe below states two teaspoons of rosewater and I may have actually used a bit more, but start with one teaspoon because rosewater is a strong ingredient.  A little bit goes a long way.  A touch in the background is nice, but too much feels like eating a bowl of potpourri.  Anyone else a fan of rosewater?

In case if you're wondering, I did not take any of these pictures.  My friend Vincent who has been helping me with the video blog, is a keen photographer and asked if he could take some photos for the blog... an offer obviously I simply can not refuse.  But please don't get too used to this fancy treatments.... very soon, sometime this week in fact, Vincent is leaving for university :( So, I want to wish him the best of luck and thanking him for all the help these past weeks.

Lime and Rosewater Drizzle Cake
Recipe by Me

200 gr soft, unsalted butter
200 gr caster sugar
zest of 3 limes (save the juice for the syrup)
3 large eggs
125 gr plain flour
25 gr corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla paste, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

For the lime and rosewater syrup
Juice of 3 limes
100 grams icing sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater

Preheat your oven to 180 C and line the base of your 20 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease its sides lightly with butter.  In a bowl, add the butter, sugar and the lime zest. 

Cream the butter, sugar and zest.  But don't just mix it; really whip it until the butter is pale and fluffy.  This will result in a really soft and light crumbs.

I use a free standing mixer which makes it so effortless.  But a hand mixer or even by hand with a wooden spoon is possible.  You just need a little (a lot of) elbow grease. 

In a bowl measure out the flours, baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Then what I like to do is to add in the egg one at a time to the butter mixture, alternating with the dry ingredients.

Though in this occasion I accidentally cracked two eggs, followed by two thirds of the dry ingredients... mixing well... and then the last egg and the rest of the dry ingredients.  Then mix in the vanilla paste.

Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes.

In the meantime, in a saucepan, make the syrup by boiling the lime juice and icing sugar.  When the icing sugar is dissolved, take the syrup off the heat and let it cool a little bit.  Then add the rosewater and give it a stir. 

You'll notice the cake is done when the edges of the cake have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin.  Remove it from the oven to a cooling rack, but keep it in its tin.  Prick the top of the cake with cake tester or I actually used a thin spaghetti for minimal damage.... using a regular wooden skewer will cause too big holes.  Remove the cake from the tin and pour the warm lime and rosewater syrup all over the cake. 

Make yourself a cup of tea and you know what to do...