Soup of the week: V Day Special! How to present your soup with cream hearts

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As all my lovely facebook followers will know, I promised this ‘how to’ a couple of weeks ago.

SCC Hearts on Soup 10

It’s so cute and with V Day coming up, it’s a fun thing to pop on that soup you cook up for your significant other. It looks even cuter with the red background of my Tomato and Lemongrass Soup  and it’s super easy to do! All you need is some double cream, a cocktail stick, a teaspoon and of course some soup! I used Carrot and Coriander as that’s what I fancied the day I took these pics.

SCC Hearts on Soup 1

Just start off with the cream and your teaspoon, very gently make a dot of cream in the centre of the soup.

SCC Hearts on Soup 3

Continue in a spiral of dots working outwards until you reach the edge of the bowl.

SCC Hearts on Soup 4

Next, take your cocktail stick and place the tip into the soup just before the first dot.

SCC Hearts on Soup 5

Basically, what you need to do here is to drag the stick through the soup in a spiral shape cutting through the centre of each cream dot on the way and you’re done!

SCC Hearts on Soup 9

This works well with so many different foods, why not get all romantic and give it a go? If you bodge it up, just stir in the cream and start again! What? You didn’t see the original photo on facebook, it’s never too late to start following me!

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Luwak Coffee, would you try it?

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Have you ever tried coffee that has been made by beans which are first digested by a cat? Well I have!

On a recent trip to Bali, we were on a day tour and our driver stopped off for an unscheduled visit to a coffee plantation. The coffee that was being grown, harvested and roasted there, it turns out, is quite a lot more famous than we had known. I’ve found that Luwak Coffee, also known as Civet Coffee, Kopi Luwak, and ‘cat’, ‘wolf’ or ‘crap’ coffee, is known as the Dom Perignon of the coffee world.

After doing my research when we got back, it also appears to get much attention from outside of Indonesia due to the unethical way the Asian Palm Civets, the cats which eat the coffee berries, are kept, some times in battery type cages. If I knew this before our visit then I probably would have asked our driver to miss out this part of our tour but I didn’t, and as a coffee lover, I was very excited to be there. From my research, I gather that the majority of the battery plantations are on the island of Sumatra and not in Bali where we were which makes me feel a little better.

So back to our tour… It started by us being shown around a small area of the plantation where they had many different fruits, vegetables and herbs growing. Some of which were completely exotic to us, some are regularly on my shopping list.

SCC Jack Fruit Bali 2014

Some Jack Fruit Growing at the plantation

SCC Pineapple Bali 2014

I had no idea that Pineapple grows like this!

SCC Coffee Berries Bali 2014

Coffee berries growing at the plantation

We then came across our first Civet in a cage, it was a pretty big cage and the cat was sleeping soundly curled up in the corner.

SCC Civet Cat 1 Bali 2014

Our guide explained that the civets are let out at night (they are nocturnal) which is when they eat the coffee beans, it is then the digested beans, which ferment as they pass through the animals intestines, that are collected from the droppings as they move out through the other end, if you know what I mean! They are cleaned and roasted before being ground and made into Luwak Kopi.

SCC Coffee Beans Bali 2014

It was first discovered back in the Colonial Era, the workers on the Indonesian coffee plantations weren’t allowed to consume the coffee beans which they collected so they got around this by instead taking the beans which had been digested by the Palm Civet and cleaning, roasting and grinding them to enjoy the coffee themselves.

SCC Coffee Roasting Bali 2014

After seeing all this, we were offered a chance to try some at the cost of 5 USD per cup, we got one to share. It was a good cup of coffee but I have had better, I really don’t quite understand how it caught on! I have read that a single cup sells for as much as £60 in London, well if you are in London and fancy a decent coffee then I would highly recommend that you head to the Monmouth Coffee Company instead! We also got to sample some other beverages which the plantation sells, they were really tasty but so so sweet!

SCC Lemongrass Tea Bali 2014

SCC Tea and Coffee Sampler Bali 2014

SCC Tea and Coffee Sampler 2 Bali 2014

Would you try Kopi Luwak? Or maybe you’ve already tried it? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Soup of the Week: Miso with Chicken

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I love Miso Soup! Miso is so healthy I find it almost cleansing. I never realised how easy it would be to make at home. A few months ago I discovered a supermarket in the basement of a mall I frequent. It’s called Meida Ya, a large Japanese supermarket selling global products with a separate section dedicated to japanese food including dine in outlets selling freshly made sushi or, my personal favourite, Katsu Curry. I have tried a few new japanese recipes since finding this store, the difficulty is trying to find the correct products as all the writing is in japanese, sometimes with a small white tag on the back with the English product name. Mostly I just ask someone who looks like they know what they’re doing! I have found out recently that you can get all the ingredients for this recipe from the japanese section of your local large supermarket.

SCC MIso

Traditionally, Miso Soup contains tofu. Now let me tell you this, I CAN NOT stand tofu! It’s not just the texture or the taste, it’s the way it sits in the soup as if to say ‘hey! i know i look like some tasty cheesy feta, but I’ll show you!’ it tries to trick you every time into giving it another try just to make sure you don’t like it, and as soon as it hits the inside of my mouth it triggers that gag reflex, like some cold, solidified, instant custard, yuck! Well I have had enough of the tofu tricks and replaced it with poached chicken breasts (take that tofu!).

SCC Miso Close Up

Here’s the recipe for my Chicken Miso Soup!

Makes 4 large servings:

For the poached chicken

  • One Carrot
  • One Celery Stick
  • One Bay Leaf
  • 3 Black Peppercorns
  • 3 Whole Chicken Breasts

For the Miso Soup

  • 40g Dashi – dashi is a japanese stock, if you can’t get your hands on it, make sure you use some top quality chicken stock
  • 3 Pints of boiling water
  • 4 Spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 Sheet of Wakame (edible seaweed)
  • 4 Tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mirin

Optional

  • Cooked Edamame topped with a pinch of Maldon Salt
Edamame, another love of mine!

Edamame, another love of mine!

Start by placing the ingredients for the poached chicken in a saucepan and fill with water until the chicken is just about covered. Turn the heat on low and simmer for around 20 minutes. Next, get your water boiling in a separate saucepan, whilst this is getting up to heat, soak the wakame in cold water for a couple of minutes. Add to the pan along with the spring onions. Pop your miso paste into a small container, this needs to be watered down before adding to the main soup pan as it will stay in lumps if you don’t. Add a laddle of the stock mixture to your miso container and mix with a fork until completely combined. Slowly add this to the stock mixture whilst stirring continuously. Make sure that you keep the heat gentle, if you boil miso, the heat kills the aroma. Next add the soy sauce and mirin, and continue to stir gently. Check your chicken is cooked by cutting one chicken breast lengthways. Once it’s white the whole way through, drain the pan and cut into chunks before adding to the soup. Stir gently before pouring into bowls and enjoying with Edamame.

SCC Miso Soup Set

I’d just like to take this opportunity to apologise to any tofu lovers out there. If any of you have a recipe that you think will make me fall in love with it then please contact me to try it out.

Gong Xi Fa Cai and a Happy New Year! Pineapple Tarts Recipe

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As I mentioned last week, this weekend was Chinese New Year which is a very important thing to the locals here in Singapore and across Asia where many traditions are carried out. When we lived in Switzerland, it was me who was more exposed to the local ways and traditions, here in Singapore that seems to have changed and my Fiancé is the one who is bringing home new foods and goodies for me to try. Chinese New Year was no different, with lots of goodies being bought into our home although some of which I am not sure I will try, like birds nest drink!

SCC CNY Goodies

Some of our Chinese New Year goodies that my fiancé received from work including birds nest drinks, bak kwa, pineapple tarts and goji berries.

One of my favourite things I have tried are Pineapple Tarts, although he didn’t bring too many of these home as I am sure they were devoured before he left the office! These are eaten here like Mince Pies are eaten at Christmas back home in England and they are a yummy tropical version. You can buy them from many stalls and shops around Singapore often in clear plastic pots with red lids as seen above in the middle of the picture. Last week I thought I would give my own pineapple tarts a try. A quick search on google came up with Poh’s recipe which looked easy enough so off I went to Cold Storage to buy a few additional ingredients I needed. I followed the recipe using the tinned pineapple option rather than fresh. It would have been more useful if I had made the jam first rather than the pastry as the recipe suggests as it took so long to cool down I had to leave it for a few hours before I could continue with the recipe. After draining my pineapple chunks I put them into my liquidiser until they were a smooth puree. I probably should of cooked the jam for longer as I didn’t have the right consistency to be able to make balls but a dollop of the jam on top of the pastries worked fine. I also didn’t have the small star shaped cutter they ask for to top the tarts but I don’t think that was the end of the world. They turned out great and really tasty although I had to wait for the man of the house to have a taste as he seems to be the expert of them now! 

SCC Pineapple Tarts in Pot

 

They turned out great! The pastry was really tasty. This was the first time I had made my own pastry since moving here as it is normally so hot but it won’t be the last. Using my food processor made it so much easy and quicker so the butter didn’t melt too fast and the jam, although not as photogenic as Poh’s Pineapple Tarts, made the perfect balance. I had one of the red lidded pots in my cupboard from the one batch that did make it through the front door, perfect for storing my authentic pineapple tarts in!

 

SCC Pineapple Tarts

Gong Xi Fa Cai and a Happy New Year to you all, May you gallop and leap into fields bursting with prosperity and success this year of the Horse!

 

 

Soup of the Week: Carrot and Coriander

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This weeks Soup of the Week is a repeat of an earlier post. In fact, the original post is exactly a year old. It’s amazing how much my life has changed in that last year, the first sentence of the original post just proves this. Back then, I was in my kitchen back in Geneva, just about coping with the freezing Swiss winter, completely unaware that I was about to receive a marriage proposal followed by the opportunity to move to yet another foreign land and now, here I am in sunny Singapore where it’s a muggy 29 degrees this evening! Anyway, back to the soup, it’s such a great recipe (in my humble opinion!) I have to share it with you all again. So if you haven’t tried it yourself yet, here’s another chance! As far as frequent cooking goes, this one is high up there. In fact, I’m sipping a mug of it right now whilst I’m typing this!

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I hope you don’t think I’m being lazy! This one has been a busy week for me. Chinese New Year this Friday means a bank holiday weekend here in Singapore and we have taken the opportunity to skip away to Bali for a couple of nights, our Christmas present to each other. With so much to do before we leave for our short flight tomorrow, this is likely to be the only post from me until next week when I’ll be letting you know how it went with my attempt at traditional Pineapple Tarts. From what it sounds like, these are South East Asia’s version of the much loved Mince Pie and a tasty sweet treat for Chinese New Year!

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I almost forgot, here’s the link back to my original post. See you in the (Chinese) New Year everyone!

Soup of the week! Tomato and Lemongrass

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This week’s Soup of The Week is slightly inspired by the local food here in Singapore with a pinch of inspiration from a food memory back when I was in my early teens. My older brother is a fantastic cook, it all started when he worked part time in the kitchens at a beautiful hotel restaurant smack bang in the idyllic Wye Valley at Symonds Yat. I never used to like tomato soup as a youngster but the chef at The Royal Hotel had a recipe for Tomato and Lemongrass Soup that was highly regarded by the rest of my family. My memory is of walking into the kitchen to find my brother and dad using as many containers as they could find to store the soup. The chef had given my brother the restaurant kitchen recipe for the rather than a downsized home cooking version so we ended up with enough soup to serve around 20 covers! Since my love for tomato soup has been born and as I am experimenting with a lot of south east asian ingredients I’ve never used before, I have come up with my own version of this soup. It’s a very light soup that works well served as a starter before a heavy meal, possessing superb flavours with a little kick of chilli cutting through.

For four servings you will need:

  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, remove outer skins and stalks before finely slicing
  • 1 litre of hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt the butter over a gentle heat and slowly cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and chilli cooking for a further 2 minutes. Next, add the tinned tomatoes, lemon grass and stock and simmer for about 15 minutes to allow all the flavours to infuse. Transfer to a blender until smooth and serve. SCC Tomato and Lemongrass Soup

Sausage Rolls

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I know I mention quite often about being an expat and missing certain foods at home. Despite this, my passion for food is more about just the cooking and the eating, it’s amazing how a specific smell or taste can take you back to a certain point in your life. For some reason, when I think of/smell/eat sausage rolls, it always reminds me of being at a bakery in Coleford, the small town which I grew up just outside of,  my Mum was treating my dad to some of their freshly made sausage rolls. It’s not a huge event but I remember our conversation and joining the long queue to get our goods.

I don’t make sausage rolls that much as they don’t really fit in too well with all the healthy food I’ve been trying to stick too but for a weekend lunch, soup and a sausage roll is so very comforting it’s one of my fiancé’s favourite things to have over a lazy weekend, although he did admit to me yesterday that he thinks it’s a weird combination. Please can you guys let me know whether it’s just me or is soup and a sausage roll a strange mix?!

I only made these for the first time early last summer, we had friends over for our leaving party in Geneva and I made a batch for the guys whilst they were watching the football. Gone, in, seconds, it was like they all performed a disappearing trick with them! They are so easy to make and pretty quick to cook. You can eat them cold or straight from the oven (my favourite!). All you need is some sausages and a pack of frozen puff pastry. I always throw in some additional flavours too. Here’s the recipe for the ones I made that last weekend in Geneva.

Yield: Two large sausage rolls

You will need:

  • Sausages – the type of sausage is entirely up to you but I would recommend using a standard pork sausage. No need to mess around with something that’s already great! I used 4 standard sized sausages. Skins removed.
  • 1.5 Tbsp Colmans Bramley Apple Sauce
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • Two sheets of frozen puff pastry, approx 20cm x 20cm
  • One beaten egg for washing the pastry

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Get the pastry out of the freezer to defrost, you may want to do this the day before but here in Singapore, I buy ready rolled sheets of pastry and once I’ve taken it out of the freezer it’s ready to go in about 5 minutes! Mash together all your other ingredients except the egg. Lay your pastry on a baking sheet and place half your sausage meat mix in a line down the centre of the pastry. Brush the edges with the beaten egg. Fold over both the bottom and the top edges of the pastry and lightly press down to stick them to the egg wash, this is to encase the ends and ensure no precious filling spills out! Brush your new top and bottom edges with egg before folding each side over to cover the sausage meat. Carefully flip over and place on a baking sheet so that the pastry edges are on the underside and cannot be seen before making some gentle slits along the top with a sharp knife. Cover the top in one final layer of egg wash. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and the remaining sausage meat. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes until cooked through and the pastry is golden. You can transfer to a cooling rack for later but they are so much better eaten right away. Simply slice each roll into 5 or 6 pieces for party finger food.

SCC Sausage Rolls Folding 1