If you’re a fan of all Asian Oriental foods then you will love this soup. A combination of the best Chinese, Japanese and Thai ingredients melded together to make a spicy warming meal – hearty enough for a winter’s night and refreshing enough for the summer season.
It’s up to you on how you want to balance the noodle and vegetable ratio – For a more filling result lay in the noodles, for a lighter version less noodle and more green vegetables and broth. It doesn’t require hours of preparation as the combination of spices, meat and vegetables pack a punch of flavour in a relatively short cooking time.
Duck meat adds a moorish fragrant flavour, but you could also substitute for chicken or tofu. If you can get a hold of Japanese scichimi – either scichimi togarashi or naniro togarashi it makes a wonderful garnish. Scichimi is a common Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients, otherwise known as ‘seven flavoured chilli pepper’, available at Oriental Asian supermarkets.
Another good thing to remember for Asian cooking is its important to use the right oil. Olive, vegetable, sesame and peanut oil will interfere with the ingredients adding unwanted flavour. Use a flavourless oil such as rapeseed for a clean finish.
1 duck breast
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoi sin sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp water
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 red and green chilli
700ml Chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp soy sauce
cracked black pepper
Squeeze fresh lime
Vegetables and Noodles:
200g flat udon noodles or rice vermicelli
1 bok choy or 4 baby bok choy
2 spring onion
Nanami Togarashi (optional)
Lime for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl along with the duck breast and marinade for a minimum of 10 minutes (and anywhere up to 24 hours depending on how much time you have).
2. Reserve the duck marinade for adding to your soup base, then on a medium heat fry duck, skin side down for roughly 8 – 10 minutes until the skin starts to get crisp. Transfer into oven and cook a further 10 – 15 minutes until tender.
3. Prepare vegetables for the soup. Cut bok choy into mouth sized pieces. Slice spring onion lengthways into long thin pieces. Prepare noodles according to packet instructions. Pick coriander leaves for garnish. Thinly slice some additional red chilli and lime wedges.
4. To make the soup base: Fry garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and chilli in a little rapeseed oil for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, reserved marinade, soy sauce, a good squeeze of lime juice and some cracked black pepper. Bring soup to the boil, then turn to simmer for approx 5 minutes. After this time add your bok choy and immediately remove pan from heat. The bok choy will soften in the soup mixture as you prepare the other ingredients.
5. Let the duck breast sit for 5 minutes once out of the oven. Then slice gently into thin pieces.
6. To assemble your soup: divide noodles between 2 bowls. Ladle over the soup and bok choy base (removing kaffir lime leaves). Arrange duck breast on one side, your spring onions of the other. Garnish with coriander, fresh chilli, and an extra lime wedge. Sprinkle with nanami togarashi.
Chilly Autumn evenings are best spend indoors with something comforting and hearty bubbling away on the stove top, or slowly cooking in the oven. As the evenings draw in, get comfortable and enjoy this warming soup made with leek, roasted garlic and potatoes.
1 large red onion, chopped fine
1 stick celery, sliced fine
3 leeks, roughly chopped and rinsed in water
1 tsp chilli
parsley stalks, finely chopped
1 large garlic bulb or 2 small
6 medium potatoes
1.5 litres chicken stock
150ml crème fraiche
Finely chopped parsley to serve
- Heat oven to 200C.
- Prick potatoes with a fork, rub with oil and salt and place on a baking tray. Roast for approx. 1 hour, or until cooked and fluffy inside.
- Rub Garlic bulb with oil and wrap in tin foil, place on another shelf and roast for 40 minutes.
- In a large pot, fry onion in some olive oil until soft. Add celery, parsley stalks and leeks, cook 15 minutes on a low heat.
- Remove skin from potatoes and roughly chop flesh. Next squeeze garlic from casing and add both ingredients to the onion mixture along with chilli flakes, stock and pepper.
- Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. When ready blend soup until smooth and to finish stir in 150ml creme fraiche. Taste and season with salt if needed.
- Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley
This week I have been testing a selection of Lavazza limited edition coffee blends, which has resulted in me bouncing around the house with plenty of energy. Apart from the standard cup, I’ve made use of the granules by coming up with as many coffee based recipes as possible. I was encouraged to do so by Lavazza through their online recipe gallery featuring coffee based treats and cocktails which you can view here: www.lavazza.co.uk/uk/at-home/recipes
Branching out from my favourite trusty espresso martini, I put together this gem of a dessert – Chocolate Coffee Buckwheat Crepes with maple syrup and ice cream. Buckwheat crepes or pancakes, also known as Gallettes de Sarrasin, are associated with the region of Brittany in France, and were often used as a replacement for bread. Savoury versions include egg and cheese, but to please everybody with a sweet tooth here is my luxurious chocolate-coffee version.
100g buckwheat flour
1 pinch of Salt
1 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp light brown sugar
50ml strong Lavazza coffee brew (left to go cold)
50g melted butter
1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
Vanilla clotted cream ice cream and maple syrup for serving
- Place flour, salt, cocoa powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix together then crack in the egg.
- Mix milk and coffee together. Add the milk-coffee mixture a little at a time, beating into a batter.
- Whisk until smooth and leave to rest for a least an hour (can also be made the night before to rest overnight).
- Once rested, stir the melted butter into the batter, whisk until smooth.
- Lightly oil a heavy frying pan and to medium.
- Pour a small amount of batter into hot pan, rolling it around to cover the surface. It should bubble quickly, showing small holes.
- Flip pancake over and cook on the other side. Roll or fold pancake up and remove from pan.
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle generously with maple syrup.
Tomatoes a la Creme, although originating from France in the 1920s, has been a popular dish in many countries for decades. Inciting romantic verse and fond memories from grown-up children who recall happy moments in the kitchen watching their mothers and grandmothers make and serve the simple but delicious dish.
Maybe the thing that gets to the heart of people with Tomatoes a la Creme is the simplicity of ingredients. Tomatoes, butter and cream are easy to obtain all year round and when put together carefully, result in rich satisfying flavours that resemble dishes with much longer cooking times and a hint of dreamy sunlit days in the countryside.
The cooking technique is key: don’t kill it will too much heat. Gentle heat and slow cooking will soften the tomatoes, allowing the juices to flow into the pan and add the wonderful base flavour to the butter and cream. Although adequate seasoning of salt and pepper will complete the recipe, adding a few leaves of thyme or basil enhances the dish nicely as well. Serve with crusty bread or as a side to meat and fish.
3 medium-size ripe tomatoes
A large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche or double cream
Thyme leaves or basil (optional)
- Cut tomatoes in half and prick all over with a fork. Melt butter in a skillet and add tomatoes cut side up. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium-low heat.
- Turn tomatoes over, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes. All the juices should be running out into the butter. (If you wanted to add some thyme leaves now would be the time to do it).
- Add cream and let it gently bubble away for a minute or two, ensuring the sauce does not dry out.
- Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.
- If you are using basil as a garnish instead of thyme then sprinkle with chopped basil now.
Anytime is a good time for a toasted sandwich. A breakfast staple, light lunch or snack in-between meals, devour a buttery crusty cheesy hot sandwich with the drink of your choice – coffee tea or beer.
My ultimate toastie is cheese, ham, pickle and honey mustard, hence the recipe below. Controlled heating on the teppanyaki grill keeps this toastie golden, whilst slowly melting the cheese. Much easier than a frying pan on the stove, just switch the grill on, make you toastie and simply wipe grill down after with a sponge. No dishes except your plate!
Crusty white bread
Cheese – emmental, swiss or chedder
1 pickled cucumber or gherkin
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
- Turn teppanyaki grill to heat setting 2.
- Mix mustard with honey.
- Butter bread. On unbuttered side layer ham, cheese, pickle, salt and pepper. Spread other side with honey mustard.
- Grill on buttered sides until golden brown (by adding pressure to the bread it will cook faster, so either press down with your hands or place a small saucepan on top).