How to make orange and almond cake

There’s a cafe slash giftshop slash whatever about 5kms north of Stanthorpe on the highway. Vincenzo’s I think it’s called… well, something like that. Although Warwick is the next reasonable sized town and isn’t too far away, we’ve never liked to stop there – mainly because the choice is Maccas or Maccas. After Warwick, you’ve really only got Aratula – at the foot of Cunningham’s Gap – before you hit Ipswich and the nightmare run through Brisbane and onto the Bruce Highway.

Anyways, we stopped at Vincenzo’s as we always do only to find that it’s closed and the landlord has put one of those lockout signs on the door. That’s when we noticed the converted church next door. Although the sign said it was a winery – the wine industry is a happening thing in the granite belt – there was also a coffee shop inside. And, wonder of all wonders, hubby declared the coffee to be good (I had black tea).

They also served an amazing orange and almond cake – one of those cakes that tastes like it’s had syrup drizzled all through it, but hasn’t really. I sent the owner a message on Instagram to see if I could have the recipe but received no reply so you’ll need to make do with my version – which is pretty good if I do say so myself. It’s also super easy. While the oranges are doing their thing, you can be doing yours. After that, it’s really just a bit of whizzing in the food processor and a little light whisking. No trouble at all.

What you need

  • 2 large oranges or 3 smaller ones – you need about 375g worth of pulp
  • 1 cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves (optional)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 250g almond meal/ ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

What you do with it

  • Pop the oranges, the cloves and the cinnamon stick (if you’re using it) in a saucepan and fill with cold water. I pop a plate over the top to keep the oranges submerged. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. You might need to top the water up from time to time.
  • Drain the oranges and allow to cool. Cut in half and remove any pips then blitz them in a processor – skins and all.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C and grease and line a springform pan – if you need measurements, the tin should be about 21cm.
  • Beat the eggs and then add the sugar and mix well. Leave for a couple of minutes to let the sugar dissolve into the eggy mix. Add the almonds and baking powder and stir through. Finally, add the oranges.
  • Pour the mix into your prepared tin and pop it into the oven for about an hour – but check it after 45 minutes. You might need to place some alfoil over the top if it’s browning too quickly. It’s cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
  • Let it cool in the tin before turning out.

I poshed it up a bit by lining the base of the tin with thinly sliced orange slices before I poured in the batter, and served it with a crumb that I made from toasted almond praline that I blitzed in the nutribullet. Yes, I’ve been watching too much Masterchef, and no, it didn’t really add much to the dish.

I also made an orange sauce using half a cup of orange juice, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 cinnamon stick that I reduced down a tad, before whisking in 30g of butter. With some vanilla ice cream on the side it was declared a keeper.

 

Soupe a l’oignon…a cheat’s version

Soupe a l’oignon in Paris

Of course, I’m still a tad obsessed about all things French at the moment. I’m slowly working my way through blogging our travels back in April and May and I’m playing around with story ideas in my head.

Another thing that I’m doing is attempting to recreate some of the tastes that we experienced in France. That goes with the story ideas…naturally.

I expected the food to be good, but I also expected to be overwhelmed with way too much cream, butter and rich sauces that sat heavily on my tummy. What I didn’t expect – and probably should have – was the simplicity and seasonality we found and enjoyed.

F, the friend that we stayed with at Lille and road-tripped with for a couple of weeks, cooked a lovely meal on our first night in France that was quintessentially French – without a heavy sauce in sight. It was roast beef studded with garlic and herbs, painted with mustard and served with a roast potato and pea salad. For sweets, she doused some new season strawberries in crème de cassis and drizzled over some cream. Parfait et très français.

It was this menu that I wanted to play with for our Bastille Day dinner. Herby roast beef with potatoes roasted whole with garlic, rosemary and salt, and green beans with shallots and a simple mustard vinaigrette.

What I really wanted to start the meal with was onion soup or soupe a l’oignon – even though it can be almost a meal in itself. The last time I made it though, it was so deep and rich we couldn’t eat anything else afterwards. Plus the house reeked of onions. Having said that, it was a beer, onion and cheese soup – is there any wonder it was heavy?

Onion soup made the traditional way, though, is both a taste sensation and a labour of love.

Aussie author John Baxter attempted the traditional method of soupe a l’oignon when writing about it for his fabulous “The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France.” The beef stock itself took almost a day to cook, reduce and strain. Then the meticulously finely sliced onions were slowly caramelised – this part took another 40 minutes or so – before cognac was added and boiled off. A roux – butter and flour – then formed the base of the soup itself to which the jellied consommé from the previous day’s efforts was added. Cheese croutes completed the dish. After almost 2 days of labour, he got la soupe.

This recipe is much easier than that – it’s also the no tears version. You get the caramelised sweetness from the roasted onions without the (sometimes therapeutic) stirring, and the depth of taste without the heaviness of beer or beef stock.

Just take 4 onions, peel them and slice them in half from root to tip. Pop into a roasting tray with salt and pepper and dots of butter – about 40g – and put in an oven heated to 200C. Cook them until they’re dark and toasty on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. I turned them twice and cooked them for a total of 45 minutes.

Once they’re cool enough to handle, cut the onions into wedges and put in a saucepan with 1 cup of white wine. Let the wine bubble down to almost nothing and then pour in 1.5 litres of vegetable or chicken stock and allow it all to simmer happily for about 20 minutes.

Onion soup is usually served with cheese croutes – thinly sliced and toasted slices of baguette with gruyere or emmental or some other melting cheese floated on top of the soup. You’re supposed to toast the bread, top it with cheese, pop it on top of the soup and put it all under the griller until it’s bubbling and rustic, but I don’t know how my bowls will go under the griller, so I melt the cheese on the toast and put it in when it’s all done.

As for a photo? Sorry, I’m yet to master making beige soup look anywhere close to good.

 

How to make crumpets

It’s winter – even if the blue sky is telling you otherwise – and at winter your fancy turns to comfort food and cups of tea. And what can be better comfort food than toasty warm crumpets with melting butter and jam – or honey?

Cumulus Inc in Melbourne does amazing homemade crumpets. They serve them with homemade ricotta and rooftop honey. It’s a real brekky treat if I’m ever in Melbourne in the winter.

I’ve never tried making them at home for myself though – until now – and it’s absolutely worth it. In fact, they were so good that I started fantasising about having a BNB somewhere in the country where I’d get up at 5 am to make homemade crumpets that would be served with fruit butter or jams I’d also bottled myself from the bounty that would have miraculously grown in the kitchen garden or potager that somehow produced enough produce to have me contemplating my own River Cottage type enterprise. Yes, they were that good.

I suspect, however, that the closest I’ll get to that particular fantasy will be when I write it into a novel. Which is, of course, where the best dreams belong.

Before I give you the recipe, a couple of hints. These need to cook slowly in order to let the bubbles do their thing. Also, I just used egg rings to shape them and although it gave us a smaller crumpet, they were easier to cook, control and flip.

What you need

  • 1 1/2 cups milk – I used full-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
  • 200ml water – not cold, not warm – that in-between temperature.

What you do with it

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is just warm. If you have it too hot it will kill the yeast. Pour it into a clean bowl and stir in the sugar and the yeast. As you let it stand it will start to bubble a bit – t make take about 10 mins to get to this stage.
  • Sift the flour and salt into another bowl and make a well in the centre – which you will, of course, pour the liquid gradually into. Beat until smooth – you can do this by hand if you want, but electric beaters make the whole thing so much smoother.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stand in a warm-ish place for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. It should double in volume and be full of airy bubbles. To help it along – if your kitchen is cold, a warm tea towel over the top will help.
  • Mix the bicarb with the water and get your beaters out again to combine it with the batter. This seems like a weird thing to do but go with me.
  • Heat a heavy-based frypan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter. Also, grease whatever metal rings you’re using as moulds and put them in the pan.
  • Depending on the size of the rings, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the batter into each.

  • Cook over a very low heat for about 5 minutes. You’ll see bubbles rise to the surface and a skin form across the top. You can now loosen the moulds (or take them away completely if they just come loose) and flip the crumpets to cook the other side – they won’t need long.
  • Remove them and let them rest on a wire rack while you cook the rest.

These can be eaten fresh, but I cut them in half and pop them in the toaster.

 

 

How to make pho – a cheat’s version…

Every culture has one – a dish that makes you feel so good inside, it can’t possibly be wrong. A dish that tastes like it should be good for you, that it should be able to beat anything that ails you into submission. Folk food, family food, street food.

Pho, (pronounced “fur” or “fuh” for the uninitiated) is one such dish. It started life as a labourer’s breakfast and is now a lunchtime favourite.

It sounds simple enough- flat rice noodles, thinly sliced raw beef, a few herbs and spring onions, and then an aromatic boiling broth is poured over the lot to cook the meat. How hard could it be? But all pho is not created equal.

Good pho has hidden depths of flavour, enhanced by the chilli, lemon, basil and whatever you add to it. It’s the noodle soup of the Gods, and just by eating it you’re treating your body as a temple.

Whenever I feel as though I need a little self-care, as if the sniffle could possibly be threatening to turn into my annual head cold, as if I’ve been spending too much time doing tasks that I don’t find in the least rewarding and my brain is tired and my soul empty – that’s when I go for this soup.

The problem is, the really good pho – the pho that you get at really good pho places – involves making a stock from beef bones and simmering it for 4 hours. Of course, you get the benefit of the bone broth, but it’s not exactly a quick fix for a craving.

To this end, I’ve come up with my cheatie pho – the one that you go to after a long day when you don’t have time to think but you want to be healthy and feel warm and cosy on the inside. And there’s nothing to be guilty about here.

Ingredients

Yes, it’s quite a list but the aromatics tend to be ones we usually have on hand and the whole thing goes together quite quickly. As with all my recipes, this is a combo of a few ideas and the quantities are, shall we say, inexact. Taste the stock as you go and adjust to your own taste. This quantity feeds the 3 of us with leftover stock for lunch the next day. We find 1 225-250g steak is ample for the three of us for dinner.

If you want you can do this with chicken as well – just substitute good chicken stock for the beef and a couple of thinly sliced chicken breasts that you poach in the soup before serving.

For the stock

  • 2 litres beef stock
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • a good size knob of ginger – I use a piece about the length of my thumb – sliced but don’t worry about peeling it
  • 4 cloves garlic – smash with the back of a knife but don’t worry about peeling it
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 5 cardamon pods, bruised
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (you can add more later if it needs the salt)
  • a few whole cloves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (or some peeled lime rind)
  • If you have one, a stalk of lemongrass (bruised)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp grated palm sugar (or caster sugar)

For the soup

  • Noodles – you can use 200g rice vermicelli or fresh rice noodles – it’s up to you.
  • 250g beef fillet
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 long red chilli, de-seeded and sliced

To serve

  • 2 small chillies, sliced
  • fresh basil
  • lime cheeks

Making the stock:

  • Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in a couple of tablespoons of oil (I usually use rice bran) in a large saucepan. You want them to soften and colour just a little.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 mins. Check for seasoning and add more fish sauce or some grated palm sugar to taste. We tend not to use the sugar. Squeeze in some lime or lemon juice if required.

Putting the soup together:

  • Place your noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Vermicelli normally needs about 10mins soaking.
  • Slice your beef as finely as possible. It will cook in your broth so needs to be as thin as it’s possible for beef to be. A good trick is to put it in the freezer for an hour or two – it’s much easier to slice when you take it out.
  • Strain your stock and return it to the pan, bringing it back to the boil.
  • Divide the noodles between the bowls, top with the onions, then the beef and pour over the hot soup. If the beef is thin enough, the stock should be enough to cook it to medium-rare.
  • Garnish with the spring onions and chillis.
  • Serve with the basil, sliced hot chillis and lime on the side.

Lemon, Lime and Bitters Scones

 

lemon lime and bitters scones

I’m taking a teeny break from all things French to bring you up to date on the progress of the novel – and bring you a recipe for scones.

The structural notes are now through from my editor and a deadline has been set as for when I’ll have it back to her for another read. To be honest, there’s not a whole lot of work involved so we’ve even set a date for when copy edit will happen.

I’m still umming and aahing about the title. My editor thinks that my original title, Happy Ever After, suits the content – and it absolutely does. There’s just something that’s niggling at me about it. I quite like One More Dance – which is a line in an Abba song, but I’m not sure that it fits more than one scene.

What I am sure about is that this book will feature some of the recipes that I’ve used in the writing of it. One of those is these scones.

I’ve been making scones since I was little. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I even won prizes for my scones at Bombala Show. Just putting that out there. Mum always used to say that it was because I have cold hands and that helps with the whole rubbing butter into flour thing.

These days I can’t be faffed with all of that palaver – besides, these can be on the table in less than 20 minutes. From go to whoa. Seriously. Including the clean-up.

A similar recipe using lemonade (I think) has been doing the rounds of Tupperware demonstration parties for years, but I found the recipe for these scones on the Bundaberg Brewed Drinks site. It has just 3 ingredients.

What you need:

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup Bundaberg lemon, lime and bitters
  • 1 cup fresh cream

Oh, and a pinch of salt…but that hardly qualifies as an ingredient.

All you do is:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C (and ignore your husband when he tries to tell you that it’s way too hot for scones). Grease or flour the base of the scone tray while you’re at it.
  • Put the flour and salt into a bowl and mix through.
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the cream and lemon, lime and bitters and mix together.
  • Turn it out onto a floured bench and – I use my hands rather than a rolling pin for this – press it out into a 4-5cm slab. No, you don’t need a ruler.
  • Using a round cookie cutter – or a small glass if you don’t have a round cookie cutter – cut discs in the dough. As an aside, remember when vegemite and cheese spread came in jars that you could use afterwards as glasses? They were the perfect size for cutting scones…just saying.
  • Bring what’s left of the dough back together and pat it out again so you can cut more scones. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  • Place the scones closely together on your prepared tray and brush the top with a little milk….does that qualify as another ingredient?
  • Pop in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. The tops should be golden.

These are best served with an orange marmalade as you can taste the citrus in them, but we only had berries. I love them just with good butter as well. The Gympie Cheese man at Kawana Markets does an amazing French-style butter.

Alternatives…

Mum and Dad came back from the Buderim Ginger Factory at Yandina the other day and told me about the ginger scones that they do there. I’m going to give those a go using ginger beer and some cut up stem ginger pieces. With the Buderim ginger jam, they’d be pretty scrummy.

Anyways, these scones are super tasty, super easy, and super quick. Plus, it’s scone making weather, right? Yes, even here in Queensland.

scones with jam and cream

 

 

Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

My daughter goes mad for these cookies and while I totally understand why she does, they’re such a palaver to make that I really need to be in the mood – and I’m not in that mood as often as she’d like me to be.

So why are they a palaver to make? It’s the whole waiting thing. You mix them, then you wait for the dough to be firm enough to work with, then you roll them into balls, then you wait some more, then you bake them. I can’t be doing with all of this waiting around.

Anyways, this is a seriously, sinfully, chocolatey, fudgey biscuit that answers every possible urge you may have around indulgences – if, of course, you’re inclined to an occasional indulgence or three. As such, they’re worth the waiting around for. Besides, sometimes it’s a good thing for gratification to be delayed…just a tad…

What you need:

235g dark chocolate (at least 55% cocoa solids), chopped roughly

150g plain flour

40g unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons bicarb (baking) soda

½ teaspoon salt

100g unsalted butter

240g soft brown sugar

2 eggs

85g dried sour cherries or unsweetened cranberries

What you do with it:

  • Preheat the oven to 165C, and line some oven trays with baking paper
  • Melt the chocolate in the usual way (I do it in a stainless steel bowl over, but not touching, simmering water)
  • Sift flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt into a bowl
  • Cream butter and sugar in your mixer
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating each in well
  • Add dry ingredients in 3 batches, beating well after each
  • Mix in the melted chocolate
  • Fold through the cherries or cranberries
  • Hand the mixer blade to the waiting “helper” for cleaning
  • This is a seriously sticky dough so you’ll need to pop the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or so – until it is firm enough to work with
  • Take large teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll into balls. Place on the tray, allowing room to spread and put the trays in the fridge for 30 mins, or until firm.
  • Hide the bowl so that the “helpers” who miraculously emerge don’t eat all the cookie dough.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins, or until risen and cracked on top. You’ll know they are done by the rich chocolatey smell.
  • Cool on the trays. They should be quite fudgey in the centre and are best eaten within a few days.

 

How to make honey madeleines…

Two things are consuming most of my thoughts at the moment – planning my upcoming road trip in France (I’ll tell you about that another time) and finishing the first draft of my current manuscript (working title Happy Ever After). As an aside, if you’ve ever wanted to know the mechanics behind writing and publishing a book, I’m blogging this one week-by-week on a Wednesday. The series is here.

As things tend to do with me, the two have combined a little with my protagonist Kate Spence making a batch of the honey madeleines I baked last weekend.

These happened quite accidentally and coincidentally. You see we’d been watching the first episode of Bake-Off on telly earlier in the week and I happened to mention that madeleines (the subject of that week’s technical challenge) were something I’d always wanted to have a go at, but couldn’t because I didn’t have a madeleine pan.  Then I forgot all about it – as I tend to do.

On Saturday I was all set to make a ginger and pear frangipane style tart, so decided that I absolutely needed a long fluted tart tin. I couldn’t find one, but I did come home with a Madeline tin – and we had madeleines instead.

Although madeleines look simple, they’re actually not. You really do need the tin and you really do need to take the butter to just this side of burnt – it needs to be nutty brown.

Speaking of the butter, rather than creaming it with the sugar and then adding the eggs and finally the flour as you do with most batters, with madeleines the butter is added last.

Finally, the batter needs to sit in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably longer. Some people would say to pop it in the fridge overnight. Kate, my character, made hers in the morning so that when her friend dropped by in the afternoon she could simply pour the batter into the trays and pop them in the oven. I allowed it to rest just a few hours.

Why does the batter need to rest? At the risk of making your eyes glaze over, it’s about allowing time for the gluten to relax and the flour to be hydrated – it makes the batter thicker and gives the madeleines their distinctive little hump. Some people say that chilling your buttered (and floured) tin also helps with this. I’m not sure about that.

Anyways, this recipe is for honey madeleines. It’s a touch of sweetness that works perfectly with the lemony syrup that you spoon or brush over the top of them. For the pic I dusted a couple with icing sugar.

And the recipe? You’ll find it here. It’s from Darren Purchese’s book “Lamingtons and Lemon Tarts.”

How to make chocolate olive oil mousse

My protagonist, Kate Spence, makes a batch of these chocolate olive oil mousses in a scene in my new novel (working title Happy Ever After). It’s one of those scenes, you know, the ones where the story changes direction, and these little mousses are partly responsible for that change.

My daughter, who has never read a word I’ve written – and probably never will – nevertheless agrees that these have the power to create a change in direction. They really are that luxuriously good.

The recipe comes from Nigella’s At My Table, but I’ve also experimented with adding some orange rind to the melting chocolate. It makes the finished result a little like a Terry’s chocolate orange.  I’d encourage you to play around with them. I haven’t tried it yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if chilli wouldn’t also work – just a touch, mind you.

These are quick and easy to make, but I’d urge you to make sure that you use the good olive oil in them – you know how you have your cooking olive oil and the one you use for drizzling? It’s the drizzling quality one that you want – just not too peppery. I know, I’m getting picky. You also want to make sure that your chocolate is the good stuff – 70% cocoa solids – and have your eggs at room temperature. Oh, and sea salt flakes – don’t be tempted to use the stuff in your salt shaker.

You need to pop them in the fridge to set for at least 20 minutes, but if you’re making them ahead, it’s best to have them at room temperature to eat. You want them to be smooth, not hard set…if you know what I mean.

Finally, because they’ve got raw egg in them, don’t eat them if you’re pregnant or immune challenged…I’m sure that you know the drill about raw egg.

One last thing – I know I’ve only just finished posting my wellness goals for 2018, but these are quite rich so a little bit really does go a long way…

What you need

150g chopped dark chocolate

100ml extra virgin olive oil

4 large eggs, separated

50g caster sugar

sea salt flakes

What you do with it

Melt the chocolate in the way you normally would. I do it in the microwave at 30-second intervals, but you can also do it over simmering water if that’s the way you normally do it. However you do it, take it off before it’s completely melted and stir until the last of the chocolate is melted. Leave it to cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the olive oil.

Whisk the egg whites and a pinch of sea salt until you get firm peaks. As old as I am I still love turning the bowl upside down over my head to make sure it doesn’t fall out.

In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt until it’s pale and fluffy and almost doubled in size.

Gradually pour the chocolate and olive oil mix into the eggy mix and fold until it’s all combined. Now take 1/3 of the egg white and fold it in. You can smash this about a bit until it’s all smooth, but you’ll need to be gentler with the rest – which you’ll do in two more batches.

Once it’s all folded through and there are no white streaks, spoon it into your ramekins or espresso cups. I also put some into a sherry glass – just so I can have a taste.

 

Salmon Fishcakes

With apologies to my Scottish husband, I’ve long held a belief that the Scots invented whisky to make haggis more palatable – or to make you forget that you’d eaten it. Yes, I know there are plenty of people out there who like haggis – my husband is one of them – but I am not. Regardless of the reason behind it, the Scots do whisky well – in fact, I consider myself just a wee bit of an expert on the subject. The Scots also do salmon – and that’s what this post is about.

Salmon Fishcakes

These are, I think, the best salmon cakes ever. Dead easy to make and seriously good to eat. We had them with some steamed curly kale and a vegetable stock based butter sauce, but they were equally as good the next night (or lunchtime) with a leafy green salad and a dollop of aioli (as above). You could also, if you wanted, posh them up with a creamy noilly prat sauce. You’d definitely need the kale then to cut through the richness.

Anyways, you need equal quantities of salmon fillet and mashed potato. I used 450g of each. The mashed spud is just done the usual way with a little bit of butter and milk. As for the salmon, we’ll be roasting this, so preheat the oven to 230C and grease a roasting tin that’s big enough to hold the salmon fillets. Oh, before I forget, don’t forget to pin-bone the salmon – we’ve all seen that Masterchef episode where a bone has sent someone home. Don’t bother to skin it – it’s easier to do this after it’s been cooked.

Dot about 25g butter over the salmon, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, some salt and pepper and 1 long red chilli that you’ve de-seeded and diced finely. Bake the fish for between 5-8 minutes – you want it to be a little under-cooked in the centre. Once it’s out of the oven, let it stand for 5 minutes and then flake it.

Put the mashed potato into a bowl and stir through 4 tablespoons of finely chopped spring onions (just the white part – I used the green leaves to flavour a chicken stock for the best ever cock-a-leekie soup…but that’s another post entirely), and 3 tablespoons of chopped flatleaf parsley.

Add the fish and mix it through.

Dust your hands with flour and shape the mixture into patties. If you keep them about palm size, you should get 8. I like them a tad smaller than that.

Pop them onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and freeze for an hour or so – until they are solid enough to handle.

To finish the fishcakes, do what you’d usually do to crumb something – set out some flour in a shallow bowl, a couple of eggs whisked in another, and some panko breadcrumbs in another. Dip in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. If you want, you can freeze them at this stage. To cook afterwards, you’d need to bake them in a low oven (150C) for about 45mins.

If, however, you’re cooking now, simply fry them in sunflower oil (or whatever you have – just not olive oil) for 4-5 minutes until they’re nicely golden.

Serve with green veg or salad.

How to make corn and ginger soup…

Ok, I know that corn is one of those starchy vegetables that’s probably best moderated, but I absolutely love it. Plus, it’s in season now – I bought four huge  – and I mean huge – cobs the other day at the markets for $3.

I was going to make sweetcorn fritters for breakfast with them, but when Sunday morning came along I couldn’t be faffed. Instead, I stripped the cobs off the kernels and used half of them in this soup. In case you’re wondering, the other half has gone into the freezer for when I can be bothered to do the fritters.

One of my favourite dishes in the world is really good Chinese takeaway sweetcorn and chicken soup. I like making it at home too – to avoid the MSG and seriously salty aftertaste – but Miss 19 doesn’t like the gloopy texture from the cornflour and eggs.  She does, however like this one.

You’re seasoning this with shaoxing wine and soy sauce so it still has a vaguely Asian taste to it, but is much lighter in taste and texture than the Chinese takeaway version. Plus, you get the fabulously sunny yellow from the corn still shining through.

We had some stock left over from when we had Hainanese chicken rice the other night, so that went in as well and added another layer of gingery flavour – I usually add a knob of ginger, a heap of garlic cloves and the green spring onion ends to the water I poach my chicken in.

Anyways, to the soup…

What you’ll need

  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • About a tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 litre chicken stock or water
  • Finely sliced spring onions – about half a cup
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (sometimes it’s spelt shao hsing)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste) – use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce if you’re gluten intolerant
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 finely sliced thai chillis – if you have them lying around and want to spice things up a tad…purely optional

What you do with it

Heat some vegetable oil (we use rice bran oil) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, spring onions, and chillis (if you’re using them) and stir-fry for a minute or so, before tossing in the corn and doing the same for another minute. Pour in your stock (or water) and bring it to the boil. That’s pretty much it – except for the seasoning ie the Shaoxing, soy sauce and salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so and you’re done.

If you want to make it look a tad more spesh, drizzle over a couple of drops of sesame oil, sprinkle some more sliced spring onion, and maybe toss in some chopped coriander.

To take it to another level, add some sliced poached chicken into the bowl before pouring the soup over it. That turns it from lunch into Sunday dinner.