Thursday, 19 January 2012

Honey Mustard Trout

I've been a little lazy with cooking recently. I do love cooking, trying new culinary experiences, and experimenting with different flavours. But, you know when you just want some food to appear with minimal effort? Minus the pizza or takeaway from the picture too.

Well, that brings me onto fish. So quick to cook and good for you with all it's omega-3 goodness. Those who follow me on Twitter may know that I'm partial to a Fish and Chip Friday but, you know when you actually just don't want all the batter and deep-friedness?

Enter tonight's dinner

I bought trout fillets and I was originally going to fry them on the grill pan with a few chopped tomatoes and some basil leaves. Nice and simple. But, you know when you want something different? I think I made this last week already.

Ok, enough with the "But, you know's".

I came up with a super simple recipe that went down a treat. Always a winner when the other half enjoys it :)

Honey Mustard Trout recipe

Honey trout mustard,
served with asparagus


  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 1 tsp aioli
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 80ml water
  • 2 fillets of trout, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix the mustard, aioli, vinegar and honey together.
  2. Add some oil to a grill pan and when ready, add the seasoned trout fillets skin side down.
  3. After about 3 minutes, add 3/4 of the prepared mixture on top of the fillets. The mixture will run down and start caramelising in the pan.
  4. Turn the fillets over and then add 80ml water to the pan. For the remainder of the cooking, the mixture will thicken into a lovely sauce.
  5. After 2 minutes more add the remaining mixture.
  6. After about 1-2 minutes, the trouts should be cooked through.
  7. Serve

I served mine with some asparagus today. Happy dining!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Christmas food bonanza

Are we done with Christmas yet? Not me, I'm still blogging about it.

Christmas is all about food and family, right? I see a lot of family that I don't get much of a chance to see throughout the year, and we all gather round and eat, eat and eat. Here is how my Christmas usually goes...
  1. Christmas roast dinner at lunchtime
  2. Chinese hot pot in the evening
  3. Chinese dim sum lunch on boxing day
  4. This year, we added an evening round at a family friend's for even more Christmas dinner, but on Boxing Day
I have to say, the food at Christmas is pretty awesome. I would say that my Mum's is most awesome, but a lot of people say the same, don't they? Feast your eyes on this bad boy. My Mum not only cooks a Turkey roast, she does about 3 or 4 other types of meat roasts along with all the veggies. And they are all awesome.  This year we had:
  • Roast meats: Whole turkey, lamb, beef, and pork
  • Vegetables: White sweet potato, roast parsnips, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, Brussels sprouts
  • Stuffing: Balls wrapped in bacon
  • Gravy: Beef gravy, and lemon and orange turkey gravy

For a good few years running, we have then gone over to see family and have a Chinese hot pot in the evening. Basically, a whole load of raw food is put onto the table, ready to cook on a portable gas stove with a metal pot on top. The pots are filled with stock and the various meats and vegetables are put in to cook at the table.

Table set up for a Chinese hot pot

This particular stove has a little plate that goes in the middle where you can fry as well. Here are some satay King prawns in action and you can see the broth bubbling away, infusing the foods being cooked inside it.

Fried satay king prawns

There are also usually a variety of sauces and dips around the table to add some flavour to the foods.

Now, I could talk about normal dessert after a Chinese meal, but I would only mention oranges and tangerines. Good fortune and all that. But instead, I will show you this chocolate cake. No, not just any chocolate cake – Marks and Spencer chocolate cake. They always have beautifully presented desserts for Christmas and this was a lovely, not too heavy, and yummyful chocolate cake. Yes, I know that 'yummyful' is not actually a word.

On Boxing Day, the food fest continues. Usually, we are out for dim sum. I'd now like to take a moment to explain what dim sum actually is and I am encouraged to explain as I have come across "dim sum" on many sample wedding menu's recently (in an attempt to find a wedding venue, not just for the fun of it) and each time I ask what they mean, it's not actually proper dim sum. 

So what is Dim Sum?
Dim sum is a style of Chinese food that is served in small portions. Much of it is steamed or served on small plates. Think of Spanish Tapas, but a Chinese version of it. Lots of small dishes for sharing. It's usually served on a Sunday afternoon and in many Chinese restaurants, they bring round the different types of dim sum in trolleys and then you pick what you want. My family and I often meet our relatives for dim sum and drink tea. This is known as Yum Cha which if directly translated, means 'drink tea'.

I'll talk more about dim sum in another blog post. Firstly, because this is getting far too long. And secondly, I should take pictures to show :)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Christmas Foodie Gifts

I love all the foodie gifts I got for Christmas. There were all kinds including these below – gingerbread mix and cutter set, homemade cookie jar mix, a spice recipe book, chocolates, and a chutney and pâté hamper set.

Gingerbread cookie mix

I really liked the lovely oat and raisin cookie mix in a jar which my friend @fashion_bandit made. I like how it's already measured out and layered up beautifully in this jar. It's a really lovely homemade gift.

I first saw this idea from a Twitter find: Scarlet Bakes. Look at how beautifully presented all these jars are on the website. It makes it so easy for someone to bake a fresh batch of goods without having to get larger quantities of each ingredient either.

So I couldn't wait to get baking with these oat and raisin cookies from my friend. So quick and easy – all I needed to do was combine with the wet ingredients, shape and put in the oven and cool! These were so yummy. I wanted to wrap some up and give them to friends but my partner and I ended up eating them all! We haven't quite finished with the festive indulgence :)

Oat and raisin cookies

Follow Friday

So you know that means you have a few more people to follow, right? You know, since it's Friday #FF

Follow Fashion Bandit and be witness to her style diary

Follow Scarlet Bakes for award winning baking mixes

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Dishoom Feast

There were three reasons for going back to Dishoom, a Bombay café / restaurant in central London:

  1. They serve delicious Indian cuisine
  2. It was my birthday
  3. We had a Dishoom note worth £10

Dishoom £10 noteThe last time I dined here was last year. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago and we each got a £10 Dishoom note to use. So when it came to my birthday, my fiancé and I tried to decide whether we should go out for dinner or if he would cook a meal for me at home. After much back and forth, we took the easier and more-likely-to-be-successful option of going out. We fancied Indian and so I pulled out my £10 Dishoom note. Such a novelty, but hey, it brought them more business. I'm all for marketing ploys if they save me money and give me good food.

I've been here only a handful of times, but I already have my favourite dishes. So while we waited at the bar for our table, I was quick to put my finger to the menu already. "I want this one, and this one, and this..." We hadn't fully decided by the time we were called to our seats, but we had a game-plan which was dependant on what the house special was.

Dishoom tasting menuWell, that plan was quickly put to one side as we saw the tasting menu propped up at our booth. I was happy to sat in a booth. The couple who were seated before us got one of the tables in the middle. Muhahahaha!

Our previous experience of a tasting menu was at Indian Accent in Delhi. We quickly looked at the dishes on the menu, and I pointed again. "I'll have this one, and this one and...". But we could have them all! It included drinks, and the equivalent of what could be seen as starters, a mix of mains and desserts. PLUS chai tea's at the end, and neither of us have had a chai since being in India. Excited? Yes.

The menu

These were the options we chose from the menu, but you could have a vegetable biryani instead of chicken, a different bread, and different flavoured desserts. There is also a vegetarian tasting menu to choose from, but we went for non-veg.

  • Mango and Fennel Lassi
  • Dishoom Calamari
  • Bhel
  • Nihari
  • Chicken Berry Biryani
  • House Black Dahl
  • Raita
  • Roomali Roti
  • Passionfruit Gola Ice and Mango Kulfi
  • House Chai

Now, I have to say, this isn't really like a normal tasting menu that I've had before. I would usually expect little dishes of each so that we could 'taste' a variety of foods. I'd say that this is more of a set meal, rather than a tasting menu and it was probably enough for three people to share.

The lowdown

Mango and fennel lassi
Mango and fennel lassi

I already had a glass of red wine from when we were waiting at the bar. The mango and fennel lassi came out and I was quite unsure if the two would mix well. They didn't. But I only slowly drank half the lassi so no one had to be witness to anything vile. I wasn't too enthusiastic about the lassi either, although it's never been a favourite of mine anyway. It's milkier and not as sweet as the few I've tried before. The rioja was very nice though!

Our small plates came out next. I'd already tried the calamari before, and I wanted to have it again anyway. This is the third time I've had it now and it is different again. I mean, it's clearly the same dish, but they just don't seem to be consistent in making it. This time the calamari pieces were cut differently and the flavour wasn't as vibrant. Nice and crispy though.

The bhel was very new to me. I don't think I have tried it before. The menu states that it is a classic bombay snack and I quite enjoyed it. Bit of crunch from the rice, bit of fresh from the pomegranate mixed with all sorts of other ingredients including tomato, coriander, and onion. Interesting and nice.

Dishoom calamari
Dishoom calamari
Bhel - a classic Bombay snack
Bhel - a classic Bombay snack

Next were our mains which I was really pleased that it consisted of rice, breads, curry and more! I always enjoy a curry with a whole mix of things. I'm not a one-dish-to-myself kind of person when it comes to Indian. I like to have a couple of curries, a bit of rice to mix in with it, and a bit of bread to mop it up. Shared of course. I'm not that greedy. Not always anyway.

I really enjoyed the chicken biryani. I'm told that it takes hours to make one of these usually. I don't think I've come across a takeaway biryani which is quite like the real thing. Or at least what I know to be the real thing. Someone I know once made a biryani at home and brought it into work for us all to try. Boy, was that some decent biryani! I recall he talked about cooking it all separately, then layering up the rice, the sauce, the chicken and the vegetables, then cooking it for longer and mixing it all up. What he brought in was rather yummy. Dishoom's biryani comes very close to it. It is different. The flavours of the berries work quite well in it and I really enjoyed it, but it doesn't quite live up to this one I've had before but I'd certainly have it again. It's served with some raita which adds a fresh and cool dimension to the mix.

Chicken berry biryani
Chicken berry biryani

The nihari is a new dish for Dishoom, or so I'm told. I've not seen it on the menu before and I did fancy a bit of lamb. It's like a stew and there is quite a lot of sauce which is thinner than the usual curries I've tried before. The flavour it quite rich, and a bit salty but it was good. Definitely nice to mix in with the rice and eat with the roti. 

Ah, the roti! I've not had roti like this anywhere else. Granted, I've only had roti in two places. Once in Rishikesh, India and once at Dishoom. I much prefer Dishoom's version. It's like a stretchy cloth, but is edible and tastes really fresh. You can see it being made in the kitchen. They stretch out the dough and place it over a hot dome to cook.

Roomali roti
Roomali roti
House black dahl
House black dahl

Now, I can't say much for the dahl. Having tried various dahl's over the past few years, I have decided that I don't like it. I'm not sure what it is, but it's really not to my taste. The other half enjoyed it though!

Does that sound like a lot of food? Well, it was. We couldn't finish it all. Defeated! We tried, we really did. We paused and tried to eat more, then paused again, and nibbled some more. But we were indeed defeated.

So I'm pleased that the desserts were nothing too heavy. Of course, we waited a little bit before actually delving into our desserts. The mango kulfi is essentially a milk-based ice lolly and the gola ice is pretty much crushed and flavoured ice. Nothing spectacular but I enjoyed it. It was actually a really good dessert for such a heavy meal.

Mango kulfi
Mango kulfi
Passionfruit gola ice
Passionfruit gola ice

Oh, we are not finished yet! Then it was the chai. It had been about a month and a half since we had chai's in India and I really did miss it. I remember coming back to the UK and craving a normal cup of English Breakfast tea and then being bitterly disappointed at how bland it was. I wanted a chai tea again. And here it was.

House chai
House chai

Good end to the meal. A lovely warming cup of spiced, slightly sweet and milky chai tea. It was the good type too, as we did have a few chai's which were far too sweet in India. They sure do like sweet!

We then got given two more Dishoom notes worth a tenner each. I need to remind myself that eating out this often doesn't actually save any money! Keeps me happy though :) Also, I do want to pop in for a Bombay breakfast or lunch some time!




Sunday, 1 January 2012

Let's get trufflin'!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great start to the new year and wishing all a healthy and successful year ahead.

A trial on truffle making

For Christmas this year, I really wanted to make some edible gifts for friends and family. They are just so much more personal, I think, and I usually enjoy baking something for an occasion or just taking a new bake into the office to test out on the hungry bunch. I miss working in an office now. Aside from the general enjoyment of being around people I like talking with, I really did like taking random bakes in whether it was for an occasion or not. We would often do the tea round, then eat cake and chat before meeting clients, staring at the computer and furiously tapping on our keyboards again.

That was four months ago as I was made redundant due to budget cuts. Since no longer being employed, I've very much enjoyed my time off. I have been baking and cooking more and set up this blog and Twitter account! I've also been sharing bakes with a few friends and family who I have been able to see more often.  

So, Christmas was an opportunity to share the baking love in mass. I knew there would be several gatherings with friends and family, and I would also be going for dinner with former colleagues.

I had a couple of months to get myself sorted. Having never made truffles before, I tried a few recipes and failed. Of course, of course… Well, you try and try again until you get it right. That’s what I did anyway and I came up with four great flavours of truffles:

  • Rich double chocolate truffles
    A rich ganache with a liquid centre, covered in milk chocolate
  • Hazelnut chocolate truffles
    A rich ganache with a whole hazelnut centre with a milk chocolate coating
  • Orange Cointreau White Chocolate Truffles
    A sweet white chocolate centre, mixed with Cointreau and orange peel, with a white chocolate coating
  • Coconut dark chocolate truffles
    A rich dark chocolate ganache mixed with coconut with a dark chocolate coating

The recipe below is for just one of these flavours, but I’d encourage you to play around with different centres and flavours to your taste. I’ve given some tips below from what I have learned.

Hazelnut chocolate truffles

Hazelnut chocolate truffles

200g dark chocolate (I used 55% cocoa solids)
200ml double cream
Hazelnuts – whole for centres, chopped for decoration
Milk chocolate

Firstly, make the ganache. Choose your dark chocolate based on the type of truffles you are making. I found 70% too rich for these hazelnut truffles, but they were perfect for the coconut chocolate truffles.

  1. Heat the double cream in a pan until it just starts to bubble (do not allow to boil).
  2. Turn off the heat and place broken pieces of the chocolate into the cream.
  3. Mix until melted and smooth.
  4. Pour into a storage container and place in the fridge until ready for use. If required sooner, place in the freezer for about 30-60 mins. It is ready when it’s set and velvety smooth.

Next we make the truffle centres. The fridge and freezer are your friends here.

Chocolate truffles presented in a gift bag
  1. Cut or spoon out a portion of the mixture, enough to place between two sheets of baking paper.
  2. Place the rest of the mix back in the fridge.
  3. Roll out the chocolate mixture between the two sheets of paper until about 3 or 4mm thick. Place this back in the freezer for 10 mins, or in the fridge if using later. Do the same for the rest of the mixture.

The reason why everything goes back into the fridge or freezer is so that it doesn’t all melt so much when you are making the truffles. It makes things a little less messy. Take out each rolled out sheet of ganache only when you are about to use it.

Rolling out the ganache makes it easier to form these truffles. Many recipes state to just spoon out a ball for each truffle and shape around the hazelnut or whatever centre you are using, but rolling out these sheets means that it's less messy and you get evenly sized truffles.

  1. With each sheet of ganache, cut rectangular strips with a knife approximately 4cm x 2cm.
  2. Take one strip, place a whole hazelnut in the middle and the shape the ganache around it with your fingertips. Place on a baking sheet on a flat transferable tray or surface.
  3. Keep doing this with the rest of the ganache and move to the freezer as soon as you can.

Moving the truffle balls to the freezer helps them to keep it shape and it makes it easier to take off when coating them in melted chocolate next. If they are left out too long, they will start melting and stick to the baking sheet.

Truffles in a box
  1. Melt some milk chocolate, however be careful not to make the mixture too warm. This is so that it can set as quickly as possible around the ganache for a more presentable and round truffle.
  2. Take some truffles out of the freezer and one by one, dip into the chocolate coating it all around and place onto a baking sheet on a flat surface.
  3. Quickly after placing the truffles down, top with some chopped hazelnuts for decoration.

I used two teaspoons to help with this. The frozen balls will help the milk chocolate to set quickly around it. You can move back to the fridge to help them set and store in a container until ready to eat or present in a nice gift box or bag.

I purchased some cellophane gift bags and tied some ribbon at the top, including a tag so the recipients knew what truffles they had received.

Here are a few of my tips for making these truffles and also other flavours.


  • It is usually recommended that 70% cocoa solids are used, but it was too rich for my taste. I found it better to use around 55% cocoa solids for the double chocolate and hazelnut truffles, but 70% for the coconut truffles.
  • This ganache can be pre-made and kept in the fridge until ready for use. This was really useful for me, as I made my truffles over a few days.
  • Work in batches and clear out fridge and freezer space. Keeping the mixtures cold is important or it could get very messy.
  • Try making a liquid centre with chocolate spread such as Nutella. Freeze small drops of the spread in the freezer and wrap the ganache around in the same way as the hazelnuts.
  • For coconut truffles use a higher cocoa solid content (70%) when making the ganache and mix with desiccated coconut for simpler, yet still tasty truffles. These can be made smaller as they do not have a centre filling. Coat in dark chocolate.
  • Coating the truffles in melted chocolate is optional. Many recipes suggest to roll it around in something like cocoa powder. But I find the truffles don't hold their shape well and it's nice to have the solid chocolate to bite into before reaching into the velvety smooth ganache inside.
Coconut dark chocolate truffles