Apple Cake with Orange Butterscotch Drizzle


Made use of some apples from Grandad’s garden by baking slices on a vanilla sponge.


Peel and core 3 apples and thinly slice. Toss over a squeeze of lemon juice with a grating of nutmeg and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

For the cake, use 4 free-range eggs. Measure their equivalent weight (with shells) of butter,  caster sugar and self raising flour. Also need 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tbsp milk.

Whisk together the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add each egg, whisking in between with a little flour. Add the vanilla, baking powder and milk then gradually incorporate the flour to make a light batter.


Place the apple slices on top.

Bake in a lined tin (23cm x 15cm or equivalent) in a preheated oven at GM4 for 40-50 mins until skewer inserted comes out clean.


I had some leftover orange butterscotch sauce made heating in a saucepan 5-6 tbsp Demerara sugar with 25g butter and 3-4 tbsp cream with a sliced orange until bubbling. 


Use half of this and drizzle whilst warm over the apple cake. (Poke holes at 5cm intervals across the cake to help the sauce soak through).


Sprinkle over some toasted flaked almonds for a bit of crunch.

Really delicious served warm with whipped cream.

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Summer Feasting

It’s been a summer of Grandfolks, family feasts, and a wedding party amongst the usual beach-camp trips away.

Always good to have folks stay.

Grandma takes advantage of being with the kids so there will be sausage rolls and mini pork pies in the fridge, just for snacks. Everyone is partial to a little pork snack.

Gung Gung just cooks all day and will rustle up the old favourites, including sweet and sour pork/chicken and won tons (with extra for the freezer).


In the bowl are PePar fruits (or Loquats) from the huge tree in their back garden which Po Po cultivated from a seed years ago.  The skin needs to be peeled and the flesh is a bit of a cross between plum and apple, very sweet and fragrant. The week after their visit I had a few in my pack lunch every day at work, just to get through them – made a nice change from the usual nectarine and banana.

Just before Grandad and Grandma J’s visit, we had some friends over for dinner – a long overdue gesture. It took a while to work out what to make with two extra adults, a 12yr old and 8yr old twins – not sure have cooked for a party of 9 before.

Decided had to be a Chinese feast, so went with

  • Slow roast Hoisin Pork Ribs
  • Stir-fried Beef and Onions
  • Soy-glazed pan-fried Salmon
  • Chilli-bean sauce Aubergine
  • Stir-fried Broccoli Florets with Cashewnuts
  • Quick pickled cucumber slices
  • Steamed Rice

Followed by

  • Watermelon 

Then rustled up a quick orange butterscotch sauce, with chantilli cream and toasted some flaked almonds for everyone to pile onto digestive biscuits in a build-your own style dessert. Went down well!

Wanted to offer Grandad and Grandma J a nice Chinese meal too, so did it again 2 nights later. Could only go with the quick dishes with it being an after-work cook up. (Didn’t need the biscuits and cream dessert the second time round though, everyone was content after watermelon).

Really nice that our guests enjoyed the food and Grandad asked for recipes, so here we are:

Stir-fried Beef and Onions

  • a rump steak, cut into slithers
  • 2-3 small onions, cut into thin slices
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Drizzle of dark and light soy sauce
  • a sprinkle of sugar
  • a little Shao Hsing rice wine
  • a drizzle of sesame oil
  • a little cornflour
  • Sunflower oil
  1. Prepare the beef, season with black pepper and marinade  it in soy sauce, a little sugar and cornflour for up to 30mins
  2. Heat a wok until smoking
  3. Add a little sunflower oil, then the marinated beef slithers, browning them on one side
  4. Then add the garlic and onion slices
  5. Stir fry to cook the onion
  6. Season with more black pepper, soy, rice wine, sugar and sesame oil
  7. Mix a little more cornflour with water and drizzle into the beef and onion.
  8. Stir fry to thicken (there should be little sauce, it’s a fairly dry dish)
  9. Serve

Chilli-Bean Sauce Aubergine

  • 1-2 aubergine cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp ginger (finely cut)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (finely cut)
  • 2-3 tbsp of Shao Hsing rice wine
  • 1 tsp Soy Bean (Daoban) Paste
  • 50ml water
  • Drizzle of dark soy
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with water to form a thick paste
  • 1 Spring onion cut into small discs
  • Optional fresh red chilli
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  1. Heat a wok until smoking
  2. Add sunflower oil then aubergine chunks
  3. Stir fry until aubergine are browned
  4. Add garlic and ginger, stirring quickly
  5. Add rice wine, soy sauce, water, soy-bean paste, sugar and stir to coat
  6. Cook until the aubergine is soft
  7. Add more water if needed
  8. Add a little cornflour/water paste to thicken
  9. Stir in the spring onions
  10. For extra chilli kick add a fresh red chilli, finely cut.
  11. Serve

I didn’t take pictures, so will have to add them in next time I cook them. Instead I’ll add a pic of condiments which I use, but any brand would be fine I’m sure.


The top picture is one of a pair of couplets stuck to our kitchen door. It’s more traditional to have the character Fu meaning prosperity. Hanging the character at New Year brings good fortune for the coming year. I went with the character for Double Happiness, usually used to bless weddings. Always good to have happiness all year round irrespective of our fortune.

Spring, Cantonese Lessons and Clay Pot Rice

  

I picked up a clay pot with my folks at my local Chinese supermarket over a year ago. It has been sat in the cupboard all this time. There have been many cold wintry days since and many times I have thought of eating clay pot rice. It’s a filling savoury dish, again something we grew up with.

I just haven’t found the time. I decided a year ago to take things easy but somehow the year got intensely busy, not least for our 2 trips overseas before April. We had a lovely first summer school holiday with a couple of camping trips to our usual Sennen, Cornwall but also up to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Both were nicely captured in eldest’s scrapbook, school holiday homework.

Somehow life became busy after Summer especially in work. I wanted to slow down but this didn’t happen and somehow I tried to take on more. The decision was made for me to stop. Although somewhat frustrating at the time it was definitely the best thing and so I’ve gone back to a steady position. It’s satisfying to be able to have tasks completed at the day’s end and sometimes finish early.

Having stepped away from clinical management I’ve had the opportunity to reconsider my non-clinical interests. In work, I’m still taking the liberty in considering whilst the clinical work fills my time. What has come up is the slow simmering development of my Cantonese.

My folks, being of Hong Kong origin speak Cantonese which we grew up with. Having been schooled in England I am more at ease with English, and my folks made the decision to not push us to learn Cantonese at Sunday Chinese School. So my Cantonese is just simple with very basic conversation and I am totally unfamiliar with the script.  I have wanted to learn since medical studies reached some conclusion after graduating from medical school, however there followed membership exams and then a Masters.

There was a year or so after membership exams and before marriage when I went along to evening Mandarin classes, and then to Sunday Cantonese lessons for adult learners. Both did not give me the fulfilment I have been after in terms of developing my Cantonese, for obvious reasons in Mandarin classes and for the mixed abilities and backgrounds in the Cantonese class. In recent years the toil of children have added to if not taken all my physical and mental efforts.

It was with increasing guilt in not being able to provide the Cantonese language education and with eldest reaching a comfortable pace with his learning at school that I decided to try him with Sunday lessons. I was pleased that parents were welcome to join the class too. It’s nice to step back into the classroom as a pupil and learning Cantonese has been pretty fun. It’s certainly given me more confidence to help kiddies practice at home.

  

Spring is here, Little Bird Sits on a Tree and Sings

With the interest there, it will happen eventually, likewise with Clay Pot Rice. The dish is usually cooked over a slow flame on a hob, but I decided to adapt it with a slow oven bake. It worked out well.

Clay Pot Rice

1 1/2 rice bowls of rice (we have jasmine fragrant rice)

1/2 rice bowl of glutinous rice

Water to cover

3 slices of ginger, peeled

4-5 dried shitake mushrooms (rehydrated and sliced)

2 lap cheung sausages

1 stick of lap yuk (Chinese cured, air dried pork belly)
4 skinned and boned chicken thighs

Dark and light soy sauce

Rice wine

Brown sugar

Sesame Oil

Spring Onions to garnish

1. Wash the rice (both) in the Clay pot, in plenty of water until water runs clear

2. Cover the rice with more water 2cm above the rice

3. Allow to sit for an hour or two

4. Cut chicken into 2cm chunks then marinade in 1 tablespoons each dark and light soy, rice wine, sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of sugar

5. Place ginger, lap cheong, lap yuk, shitake mushrooms and chicken on top of the rice

6. Cover the Clay Pot with it’s lid and bake in the oven GM3 for 3 hours until rice is cooked through

7. Before serving, thinly slice the lap cheong and lap yuk and place on top of the rice loosened with a spatula. Sprinkle over some fresh shredded Spring Onions.

8. Serve with steamed Bak Choi or Choi Sum greens.

  
  

Any left over is delicious heated up in a non-stick frying pan.

Slow Cooker Fragrant Pork 

  

I couldn’t resist buying pig cheeks from Mr Pickles (Sheffield’s Yorkshire Food Grocers) a few weeks back – a new cut for me. It made sense that they’d be perfect for slow cooking to tenderise, similar to oxtail. The connective tissue in such cuts renders down to provide the necessary moisture and flavour to the meat. Mr Pickles suggested Anton Edelman’s slow braised recipe with parsnip purée from the BBC website, but I fancied some real home-cooking and what came to mind was Dad’s pork stew with tofu, twice cooked pig skin, mooli in a rich 5 spice flavoured sauce which was a dish not infrequently served up when we were kids. It was only later that I discovered that the dish is a traditional festival serving making up the main layer of Fanling’s Poon Choi, which my dad most likely grew up with. One day I’ll get the real recipe from dad but in the meantime I had a go experimenting and this is my approximation. I imagine that I’m missing some vital ingredients and flavourings, but the taste of my stew wasn’t too far off the pig cheeks were delicious.  My eldest (now 6 years old) even stated that he liked the pork very much and the meat disappeared pretty quickly from youngest’s (almost 2 years) bowl.

  • 500g pig cheeks
  • 2 onions – cubed
  • 1 aubergine – cut into large chunks
  • 2 sticks of dried tofu sheets
  • 1 inch piece of ginger – peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 3-4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 500ml water
  • Salt and black pepper

1. Season the pig cheeks then coat lightly with cornflour

2. Sear in a little oil in a hot pan to brown, then place in the slow cooker.

3. Brown off the onions, add to the pork

4. Add the aubergine, ginger and spices

5. Pour some water into the pan to pick up the pan juices, add to the pot with the remainder of the water

6. Stir in the wine, soy and sugar until everything is well coated

7. Break the tofu sticks into 10cm pieces and distribute amongst the pork, onions and aubergine

8. If leaving overnight in the fridge, position any aubergines sitting above the liquid skin side up (to minimise browning)

9. Put slow cooker on a low setting for 8 hours, or until the pork cheeks are tender

10. Just before the final hour, check the consistency of the sauce. Add a further tablespoon of cornflour mixed with water to thicken. Adjust seasoning to taste with a little extra dark soy and brown sugar

11. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and greens, with a spring onion and coriander garnish

This is a great one for these cold blistering days. Get it all prepared the evening before and let it sit in the fridge. Put  the slow cooker on in the morning and it’s there waiting after the busy day.

Sunday Chocolate Cupcakes

  
These are light and fluffy, a delicious chocolate treat warm from the oven, perfect after an Autumnal, Sunday morning walk.

  • 3 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coffee Granules
  • 4 tablespoons Hot Water

Mix the above to form a thick paste

  • 200g Stork Spread
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 160g Self Raising Flour
  • 40g Corn Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Medium Free Range Eggs

1. Preheat Oven to GM4 or equivalent

2. Beat together Stork and Sugar using an electric whisk

3. Add Vanilla and Chocolate/Coffe Paste, beat again to mix in

4. Beat in Eggs, one at a time whilst sifting in the dry ingredients, whisking together with each addition

5. It all comes together to a mousse like mix

6. Spoon into cupcake cases

7. Bake for 15-20 mins until nicely risen and slightly crisp on top (or cocktail stick inserted comes out clean).

Abbeydale Road

Back in the swing of Tuesdays with Autumn term starting 2 weeks ago, after a lovely first summer school holiday, went for a stroll this morning up Abbeydale Road with littlest (Not so little anymore at 20 months, our cheerful cheeky chappy).
With a couple of errands including picking up a tin of Purbeck stone from Farrow & Ball and putting a cheque into the bank, headed out directly after school drop off. With 20mins before the bank opened, decided to get a bit of exercise and walk up Abbeydale road. With the sun breaking through and blue skies emerging from the cloud and rain, I decided to have a little go with a photo project a la Chica (my good friend, and serious blogger).

Abbeydale road has been on the pipeline as the new Ecclesall road for as long as I can remember in the 13 years of living in Sheffield, with Bragazzis being the central place to head to for the best coffee in town, standing alone.


Then along came a little independent bakers with great sour dough loafs and amazing croissants, next door but one. Forge Bake House have expanded since into a bigger premises, with their own cafe and bake school, bringing interest further up the road.


Within the last year or so, Mr Pickles have opened. Such a great enterprise bringing Yorkshire produce to Abbeydale Road. It is now my preferred place to shop for our meat. They have a great working attitude opening every day into the evening which makes it more readily accessible and giving supermarkets a bit of competition.  We feel like valued customers there, when at Christmas the nice owner gave us a canvas shopping bag as a token of appreciation of our custom. This summer, when our cheeky eldest asked him for his apron (as well as the usual gourmet scotch egg), he popped round the back and got one out for us to borrow on the agreement that eldest would wear it to do some cooking, and return it,of course, next time we popped in.

Another shop and well established is the great cook ware store, owned by a couple of foodies, The Gifted Cook, formerly Abbots Cookshop.  I always enjoy going in for a browse with the owners on hand offering a coffee and cooking advice for whatever item you’re considering.

These are my favourite Abbeydale road places but there are more..

Amici Bici, is a lovely Italian Bicycle themed cafe, seemed the place to be when the Grand Tour came to us last year.

Mac & May is a stylish little place, great for a little browse with stylish reclaimed furniture/homewares.

This morning I saw this florist again, The Flower Garden Florist, having noticed it popping up not long ago.

..And I’m a huge fan of Swallows and Damsons. It used to be the just the Little Flower Shop which provided us with our bouquets on our wedding day 7 years ago. The new owners have taken the world by storm though with their beautiful Instagram images.


(I’m not doing it justice with my little photo here).

And otherwise plenty more to explore..

Rude Shipyard is one place in particular, I’ve not managed to visit yet. I’ve always found the name inviting.  It always looks interesting with it’s notices for book evenings and other community events. Our friend used to bake for them before she and her family moved back to Germany. When I started off initially as a locum Consultant in Chesterfield 4 years ago, in my first clinic I met a patient who was doing well with his mental health.  He told me of his days spent heading over to Sheffield by public transport, in particular to visit  and hang out at the Rude Shipyard.

 
Abbeydale road has had bit of evolution over recent years and pulled in the artisan. With a bit of Council re-branding going on, it is now the central spine of the Antiques Quarter mixing in interestingly with the established Middle Eastern community and businesses. Overall it is a favourite place.

Saturday Hoisin Ribs

  

Maybe a little bit of pork overload this week, but the usual steamed rice and home grown Cavelo Nero balanced it all out nicely.

For 2 adults and 2 small kiddies:

1kg pork ribs

1/4 tsp 5 spice powder

2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce

1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup

1 tbsp Golden Syrup

1 tbsp Rice Wine

1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce

1. Prepare the ribs then place into an ovenproof dish

2. Add the remaining ingredients and rub into the ribs to marinade

3. Bake in a preheated oven GM3 for 3-4 hours, turning and basting regularly (cover with foil if starts to dry out, but uncover for the last 1/2 hour)

4. Allow to sit for 15-20 mins

5. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables