Category Archives: Savoury

新年快樂 Wondercat rides the dragon

Gong Hei Fat Choi!  It is the start of the Chinese Spring Festival!  Chinese New Year!

Mykie is half Chinese.  Usually he doesn’t give a monkeys about his heritage…but if there’s food involved…

Wondercat was hosting “Come Dine With Me” so we decided to combine this with New Year and cook a FEAST!

Here’s a run down of what we made:

  • Char siu bao
  • Nai wong bao
  • Dou sha bao
  • Nian gao
  • Char Siu Pork
  • Crispy Belly Pork
  • Honey Chili Ribs
  • Sweet Ribs
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Garlic ginger broccoli
  • Rice
  • Noodles

and we cheated a bit and bought…

  • Siu mai
  • Har gau
  • Crispy duck
  • Duck spring rolls

It’s fair to say we were busy all day!

All the savoury stuff turned out fine…better than fine, the char siu pork and belly pork were delightful!

Maybe we made too much food for five people?

We had a bit of an issue with the bao! Used far, far, faaaaaaaar too much dough and ended up with space hoppers!  They were nowhere near as good as shop bought ones…back to the drawing board!

bao wow!

The nian gao was good…we didn’t have glutinous rice flour in so ground our own out of arborio rice (how’s that for ingenuity)!  We added home made red bean paste and dusted with gold dust.

We made little sweet versions

always remember to shake out the air bubbles...we forgot

and “lucky coins”

penny pincher

Here’s to a prosperous year of the dragon! Grrrrr! (that was a dragon noise BTW)

Gloooooria! Bread rise in excelsis!

Loaf rise merrily on high,

In kitchen the timer’s pinging:

Bread smells wafting through the sky,

On toast I will be binging!

So, yeah, this weekend was about bread and carols…Nom nom nom nom la...nom nom nom la!

After a successful(ish) crumpet run we thought it maybe time to put Gloria Bubble’s leavening powers to the test!…Loaf time!

Really easy recipe just a 1:2:3 ration of Gloria, Liquid (we used liquid whey) and Strong White Flour…and salt (about 0.05 but that totally ruins the pretty ratio).

So…

  • 125g Gloria Bubbles
  • 250ml liquid whey
  • 375g Flour
  • 6.25g Salt
  • We also added a tsp of cumin seeds for some earthy depth (then sprinkled with sea salt and freshly dried thyme to add a lighter, sweeter note (that is douche speak for we scattered shit on).).

    ooh, we do love a savoury sprinkle.

  1. Mix everything and knead for about 10 minutes
  2. Cover and leave somewhere nice and snuggly warm until doubled in size
  3. Knock back and knead for a few minutes
  4. Shape and plonk in a loaf tin
  5. Cover and leave again until doubled in size
  6. Sprinkle with thyme and sea salt and bake 200ºC for 30-35 minutes

We made the loaf over the weekend and left it by the roaring fire to prove.  As it was “Gloria Powered” not those turbo, rock n’ roll, speeding off their tits, fast-action yeasties…it took forever to double in size!  She plodded along obviously taking her time knitting bubbles and wrapping them in ribbon before releasing into the dough…we were concerned we’d pushed her too hard, too fast, to furious, but she came good in the end!

If we’re honest we may have over-proved her second time around; she was taking sooooo long to rise I was going to bake the loaf the next morning…5pm, still little; 6pm, not much happening; 7pm, (like our hung-over eyes) a little puffy; 8pm good to go but a bit late for fresh bread?!  9.30pm, she was bursting from her seams so we had no choice…baking time!

Look at the air-holes! We made them! Oh Dr Frankenstein eat your heart out! My creation was totally more delicious than yours!

what a delightful crumb! *breaks the forth wall a la Miranda Hart*

The other great thing is that Gloria lives! She donates a portion and then goes on her fabulous way! There is no need for a sacrifice to the Baking Gods or to Our Mother Mary (Berry).

The loaf was delightful, light and airy with that lovely sour-dough tang.  The cumin and thyme worked nicely together to make it the perfect accompaniment to a warm stew or soup (we warned Simon just in time as he was about to spread some raspberry jam on a slice!).

toasted with a swipe of butter...hold the jam.

The next job for Gloria is probably a sweet, breakfast bread…exciting…we are very proud mamas’!

Mini Naanana…

Saturday naan Saturday naan

Saturday night you know the curry’s gettin’ hot…like you baby!

I’ll make you naan so you can eat the spicy slop…I’ll drive you crazy!

Did I just rewrite Whigfield?

It's carby time! oh! It's carby time! oooooh! oooooooh!

Anyways, I was going out to Greater Manchester Skeptics so Si needed dinner that would be ready when he fiiiiinally got home.

Home made chicken curry with basmati rice and…home made mini naan!

I worked out I could make the naan in the 30 minutes the curry would take (and with the ingredients I had lying around)…Jamie/Macgyver…eatcha heart out.

Super Quick Mini Naan

  • 125g plain flour
  • 60ml milk or liquid whey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp some other liquid fat (I used some olive oil)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • flavour spices and things (I had sesame seeds, cumin seeds and ground coriander but nigella seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion bits etc would work great too…just throw in anything you feel like)
  • bit of oil/fat for cooking (ghee would probably be good, I used groundnut oil)
  1. mix the liquids
  2. mix the dry
  3. add liquids to dry and need together for about 5 minutes
  4. leave in a bowl covered in a tea towel for 15 minutes
  5. either split into small blobs and roll out or roll and cut out shapes
  6. heat a griddle pan that you’ve brushed with oil
  7. cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side over a medium heat until golden

pan of naan


Generally naan should be tear-drop shaped which I find rolling out free hand to be annoyingly difficult to get consistent (I have been known to stamp my feet and throw dough across the room in a big hissy fit).  I didn’t have a tear-drop cutter but, I have so many round ones I sacrificed one to erm, Vishnu(???) and stretched it at one end (really Richard Dean Anderson, I’m gunning for you).

sacrificial circle...offering to the curry gods

They looked a little rigidly uniform but being so tiny I think it works.  I was quite happy with the griddle lines and they tasted gooood.  When I got home Si said the naan were tasty and gave his blessing for them to be made again;  This is very positive as many things get the “they were nice but, maybe try something else next time” comment or occasionally the “why would you replace ALL the tomatoes in bolognese with oranges?!  Did you honestly think it would be a good idea?” speech.

fan of naan

man with naan

So if your making a curry it’s really no extra time to throw together some naan…get baking curryphiles!

Miss Muffet part I: Cottage cheese? No whey!!

(Why can’t we stop with the terrible puns?)

Who knew you could split milk and do marvellous things with both parts? Not I!

This all got started as we go through so much cottage cheese, around 1kg per day (seriously!). It is the perfect food! High protein (and casein so keeps you full for ages), low calorie, acceptable carbs. You can chuck bits in to make it sweet or savoury, whack it in a lock ‘n’ lock and you have great num nums to take to work!

There must be a way of saving money by making our own, right?

Turns out NO! It is far cheeper and easier to buy! From one of those big 2 1/4 litre plastic milk bottles we got…about 300g curd. The rest was a tonne of liquid whey which at the time we had no clue what to do with. So, about £1.60 for a 600g tub of cottage cheese or £1.40 for milk + 30p for a lemon + about 1/2 hour of hob heating and 30 mins soaking and cooling…you don’t need to be Carol Vorderman to work out it’s not a great saving in anyway!

But! We do suggest making it every once in a while! The finished “cheese” is actually really nice and you can probably do some wonderful things with it (we haven’t played with it yet,  well we did but we pretended we laid a giant egg and ran around clucking). The real reason to make it though is for that useless liquid whey! It turns out it can be used for total greatness!
Intrigued? We’ll tell you all about it in Miss Muffet part II!

Say cheese (sort of)

Home made cottage cheese

  • 2.2l milk
  • 4 tbsp approx lemon juice
  • salt to season to your liking (about 1 tsp)
  1. Heat milk with salt until boiling
  2. Add lemon juice and stir until curdled (looks so gross btw)
  3. Strain into a colander lined with muslin
  4. Pull corners of muslin together and twist to make little cheesy ball bag (you may want to let it cool a bit first!)
  5. Leave to drain and cool

You can just chop the ball up and use it for things. I’m toying with the idea of adding flavourings as part of the making process. We wanted plain old cottage cheese so squished it with a fork and stirred some of the whey liquid back in.

cottage cheese, the Uggs of dairy...not very pretty but so comforting and practical.

Next post will be what to do with the whey…it looks like a massive jar of man fluid (sorry, but it totally does).

Sasquiche! The abominable tart of deliciousness!

Ok, here was the situation…

We had a vegetarian coming to stay
We were going out dancing so needed a light dinner

Here are the problems…

  1. We don’t have a smallish fluted tart tin (I know, right? What kind of bakers are we?)
  2. We had been drinking all the live long day

Plan of action…

  1. Invent a tasty, vegetarian quiche that won’t give that “would be better with meat” thinking
  2. Bake said quiche in a state of low to moderate inebriation

ugly as hell yet tastes like heaven...if heaven was made of cheese...is heaven made of cheese? I think I'm thinking of the moon...tastes like moon.

Oh Torontes, you Argentinian fiend! Curse your zippy grape goodness! So, yes, wine was the major obstacle of the day, but we had dinner to make! Glass down boy, (and up, and down, and up and refill) time to bake!

Goats cheese, red onion and fig quiche

Pastry

  • 250g 00 flour
  • 125g good butter (chilled and cubed)
  • tsp dried oregano
  • pinch o’ salt
  • few tbsp iced water
  • egg yolk
  1. Rub butter into flour salt and oregano until sandy
  2. Add water little at a time cutting through with a bread knife until dough starts to come together
  3. Push dough together and kneed for 30 seconds maximum
  4. Shape into ball, flatten, wrap in cling and whack in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  5. Pre-heat oven to 200C
  6. Roll pastry in-between sheets of cling (you’ll thank me for this) until about £1 coin thickness
  7. Pop into a greased 8″ flan tin (or cake tin…the shame!), leave the top layer of cling to support the pastry when lining the tin and make sure you push right to the edges
  8. Remove cling, prick with fork
  9. Line with foil and weigh down with baking beans
  10. Pop in oven for about 5 mins until the base under the beans is dryish
  11. Remove beans and foil, brush all over with egg yolk
  12. Return to oven at 180C for about 15-20 mins until a nice golden brown

Filling

  • 250g full fat cream cheese (I said full fat, drop that Philly extra light)
  • 100g rindless goats cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 red onions
  • fig relish
  • fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Cut onions into thin slices and fry off gently in a bit of olive oil until soft and starting to caramelise then set aside to cool off
  2. Pre-heat oven 170C
  3. Mix cheeses and eggs together with a tsp of chopped thyme until smooth and season to your liking (I’m totally not advocating eating raw eggs btw)
  4. Smooth a layer of fig relish onto base of pastry case
  5. Spread over caramelised onions
  6. Pour in filling to top of the pastry but don’t let it spill over (spillage=burnt bits)
  7. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the middle has a slight wobble
  8. Sprinkle with some thyme sprigs oh, and maybe a little Maldon salt and cracked pepper…go crazy.

So how did ours go?

Firstly we made the pastry THREE TIMES! The first we used wholemeal flour which lacks gluten so cracked; the second was made with ingredients we had lying around which were SR flour and spreadable butter (no real surprise this one went breasts skywards); off to Waitrose, bought ingredients for third (actually, we sent Si as we were druuuuuuunk!).
The stupid lack of flan tin lead to having to level the crust so cutting off the golden goodness and making the pastry look as thick as Tara Reid (we are NOT watching Big Brother). The pastry was anaemic looking either way as we didn’t brown it long enough. The filling we managed to just about over cook so we got a small crack, we also didn’t turn the thing so we got one Snooki side and one Edward Cullen side (for this we blame the Torontes and Lady Gaga…kitchens make EXCELLENT dance floors and singing “edge of glory” real loud will make you miss a pathetically wimpy oven timer beep…and ps we have watched neither Jersey Shore or Twilight, it’s these internets, they get everywhere!).

oh those smooth unfluted edges are like a dagger to my heart!

I will say, despite the “rustic” appearance and the slap-dash cookery skills it tasted AWESOME! Meat? Who needs meat? Bring me some more pastry, goaty, figgy greatness if you please!!!

seriously, the pastry was NOT as thick as it looks...that soooooo sounds like a fat chick justifying skinny jeans

There would have/should have (I mean, come on Wondercat you’re running a baking blog here) been internal cut quiche pictures. I’m afraid hunger totally struck and we’d polished off a bottle of champers so thoughts of photography were none existent (we were aaaaaaaaall about if we had time for a face mask and if eyebrows needed a tidy up).

Black border thing-to hide my feet! I was stood on the dining table legs akimbo...yes, I squatted drunkenly over the quiche...if only someone photographed me photographing it, picture in picture...oooooh! (just blew my own mind...pop)

So, if you need a tasty vegetarian meal that you can make in stages, in advance and when drunk you should be making this…run, make this.