Monday, 19 May 2008

Roast Beetroot, Chard and Caper Salad

It has to be a special day when an ice cream van parks right outside your house. Especially when that ice cream van is the travelling Choc Star containing the one and only Petra and her collection of chocolate related goodies. This weekend, South Tyneside was Petra's stop off on her monumental tour of Britain and we welcomed her with open arms, especially as she had a Choc Star style pudding in tow! Cerys was besides herself with excitement to see an ice cream van right outside of her house, and with a free ice cream given to her inside the beast with chocolate sauce poured all over it, this was about as good as it gets for a 3 year old.

If you haven't been checking out her adventures, Petra has decided to pack her bags and tour this gallant land in an effort to get inside the real chocolate loving Britain. With a different stop off each day, Petra and the Choc Star (AKA Jimmy) have been having the most amazing gastronomic adventure, meeting amazing characters and sampling foodstuffs of different styles.

And what do we get for offering her a bed and meal? Well, a superb pudding for one. But best of all for us was to finally meet Petra who is one of the most interesting people we have had the pleasure to meet. What she is doing is the stuff that dreams are made of and if I had the time and less commitment, I would love to do something like this. It must be so interesting finding out about people, the real people and the true reflection of this land. I guess you have to be a people person, and Petra is definitely that.

I decided to put out a bit of a Greek and Turkish combination of dishes along with flatbreads. One of the favourite dishes was a roast beetroot, chard and caper concoction. Simple and tasty, just how I like it. Then Petra dished out the best chocolate mousse cake we have ever eaten, especially as it was made using Willy of Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory fame Venezuelan Black 100% pure cacao. Sensational.

So bon voyage Petra and Jimmy, and we cannot wait to see you back in these parts for the Choc Star Tour Part 2!

Roast Beetroot, Chard and Caper Salad
Serves 4 as an accompaniment or 2 as a main course

6 whole beetroot, peeled and cut into quarters
2 tbsp olive oil
4 handfuls of Swiss chard, cut up roughly

For the dressing
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
A handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, GM6.
2 - Place the beetroot into an oven tray and toss with the olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until tender and beginning to colour.
3 - Wash the chard and with the water that clings to it, place into a hot pan or wok. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until wilted.
4 - Combine the beetroot and chard in a serving dish. Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour all over the vegetables.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Pork and Crab Chinese Dumplings

Pork and Crab Chinese Dumplings
Makes 20-24 dumplings

For the dough
150g plain flour

For the filling
75g minced pork
75g white crab meat (tinned is fine if you can't get fresh)
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 thumb size of ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
A handful each of coriander and mint, finely chopped
A squeeze of lime juice
1 egg white
1 tsp corn flour
Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

1 - Tip the flour into a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Pour in water and stir until it comes together to form a stiff dough. Knead for a minute, wrap in clingfilm and leave aside.
2 - For the filling, mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
3 - On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin sausage. Cut off pieces and roll them all into little balls.
4 - Roll each ball into a circle approximately 4 inches in diameter. Don't worry if they are thin, it will work.
5 - Place teaspoons of the mixture into the middle of each circle of dough. Bring up the edges to meet each other and crimp together roughly until they form little parcels with a flat surface.
6 - Pour a little vegetable oil into a non-stick frying pan. Cooking in batches, add the dumplings to the hot oil and cook for 1 minute. Then pour in a little water and place on the lid. Steam for 7-8 minutes, checking to see that the water isn't boiling dry.
7 - Remove and serve with a simple dipping sauce of sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds and a green salad of fried mushrooms, sliced bok choy, pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander. Delicious.

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