Saturday, 26 September 2015

Apple and Blackberry Flapjack Crumble with Custard (includes Thermomix method)

Now that autumn is here, apples and blackberries are plentiful and often free, if you know where to look!

And what better pudding to warm you up on a chilly evening and share with the family (or not!). Best of all, you can make plenty and freeze once assembled for a ready-to-cook dessert, or if you prefer freeze leftovers once you've cooked it.

If you're not a huge fan of blackberries, you can use another berry or fruit of your choice to the same weight, or simply add a couple of extra apples. I like to use a mixture of cooking apples (Bramley) and eating apples (Gala / Cox / Braeburn or similar) for contrasting textures and flavours. Really, you can substitute pretty much any autumn fruits you like - you don't have to use apples - just moderate the sugar to your taste, cover in crumble and bake until bubbling around the edges and golden on top!

Not so long ago, I had a crumble which had a custard layer between the fruit and the crumble - and I have to say it was a very pleasant experience, which I think stops the fruit from making the bottom of the crumble a big soggy lump - so I have included a method for making your own custard to do the same - you don't have to do this, you can just serve custard on the side - or, of course, you can cheat and buy a couple of cartons of good quality thick custard, and use those in instead! Either way, it's optional (but very nice, so I do recommend giving it a go!).

Makes two crumbles which serve six generous portions each, but you could easily half this to make just one (I make one to bake, and then split the rest between small containers to freeze in double portions). Sorry, but I just don't think this is one to count calories on, for a change!!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Black Sesame Spinach and Spiced Sesame Spinach Egg Rolls

It's a two-for-one! A different way to eat spinach with the delicious, nutty flavour of toasted sesame, and the option of using it as a filling for a spiced egg roll.

You can make the spinach as a side dish to complement Japanese main dishes, such as my teriyaki chicken or salmon, or kushiyaki beef skewers, or you can make it as a filling for delicious spiced egg rolls as below - almost like a seaweed-free, rice-free version of sushi rolls!

As a side dish, you can divide the spinach between two (or eat it all yourself!), or you can stuff one egg roll and have it as a snack just for you, or share if you're presenting more than one dish.

The black sesame spinach is 116 calories per serving (if serving two) and the sesame spinach egg roll is 345 calories in total for the whole roll. [Calories in square brackets]

Spicy Szechuan Chicken

Try something outside of your Chinese cooking comfort-zone, that’s very easy to cook, and surprisingly subtle in terms of flavour, with a little bit of a kick to it!

The official name of this dish is Hot and Numbing Chicken (Ma La Zi Ji), but don't let that scare you off - it's really not *that* hot and it isn't going to anaesthetise your mouth, I promise!

Nowhere near as spicy as you might think, this dish gets its name from the numbing, tongue tingling qualities of the Szechuan / Sichuan pepper (not used to excess in this dish, so don’t worry, it’s quite subtle!) and the heat from the chillies (which you can also moderate, by leaving out the seeds, for quite a mild dish). It’s actually a Hunanese dish, which is why the amounts of pepper in it are quite conservative, because the Hunanese are not overly fond of the strange tingling flavour of their neighbours’ peppercorns!

Serves two, 235 calories per portion. Easily doubled, or halved.

Szechuan Seafood Stirfry

A delicious stir-fry with just the right amount of subtle kick, and a delicately flavoured sauce which doesn’t overpower the squid.

If you're a fan of seafood, this is both delicious and healthy - plus it will use up some of those Szechuan peppercorns you've maybe got hiding in the back of the cupboard!

Serves three light portions (or two generous), 161 calories per serving for three (or 242 between two people).

Crab claws with Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Spring Onion

Fantastic starter or snack, or great served with a selection of Chinese dishes to share. Simple ingredients but absolutely delicious!

If you love crab, and you've seen crab claws and wondered what to do with them, then here's a delicious and really easy way to cook them, Chinese style!

This was inspired by the way my favourite Cantonese restaurant serves king prawns - with the exception that they also add a splash of ignited brandy from a metal ladle, to flambe the prawns! Feel free to add this touch for extra visual impressiveness if you want to!

Serves two, easily doubled or halved. 120 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets]

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