My new bacon & eggs- Hong Kong style!

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Having lived in Hong Kong for a couple of years, I got to know what was good to eat.  The mix of cuisines is incredible in HK and there’s no telling what you might end up eating if you go wandering.  I wandered.  I ate.  Some dishes stood out.  This is one of those dishes.

Barbecued pork (char sui) is everywhere in Hong Kong.  The soy sauce seasons the pork beautifully and it pops up in a variety of dishes.  One of my favourites was actually one of the first things that I ate upon arriving there.  Not sure what to order in a local spot (in Prince Edward), I pointed to a photograph on the menu of what looked like scrambled eggs and pork.  When it came to the table, I knew there was no going back.  It was beautiful!  Soft eggs, tender char sui and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions.  It was gone before I knew what happened.  Suffice to say that I was a regular after that and only recently did I decide to revisit that dish in my own kitchen.

Belly pork makes your weekend scrambled eggs something special and it’s a fun alternative to what you might normally cook up.  Check it out and see if you want to indulge.

Scrambled eggs & char sui.

400g sliced belly pork

fresh eggs (I use at least 4)

2 spring onions (sliced)

2 tblspoons salted butter

2 tblspoons honey

2 tblspoons dark sauce sauce

3 tspoons Chinese 5 spice

Olive oil

Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 180C and coat the pork slices with a little olive oil.  Don’t use too much- belly pork is fatty enough and when this renders, your baking tray will become filled with too much liquid.  Cook the pork for 30-40 minutes turning once.  The next step is to glaze the pork to add flavour and make it look appetising.

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Mix the soy sauce, honey and five spice together and brush onto the pork.  Put the pork under a grill on medium heat and add more glaze as it begins to crisp up the outer edges.  Try not to burn the pork- instead, turn the slices and continue to brush more glaze on.  You should end up with tender pork covered in a sweet glaze.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on if you need extra seasoning.  Leave the pork to cool slightly while you cook the eggs.

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First things first: scrambled eggs should be made slowly.  If you want soft, buttery eggs, you have to spend some time cooking them gently.  Lot’s of butter.  Low heat.  I always use lots of butter, but you should make it to your won taste.  Heat the butter in a pan on the lowest heat until it is bubbling and turning to foam.  Beat the eggs and pour them in.  Use a wooden spatula to gently move the eggs so that they don’t stick to the bottom.  Try not to keep stirring.  Allow the eggs to set slightly before moving them.

As the eggs begin to come together, throw in some sliced spring onions and finish stirring.  It’s best to take the eggs off the heat early so that they don’t dry out, but remain on the runny side.

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Chop the pork into nice chunks and stir into the eggs before serving.  Simple, but satisfying.

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Admittedly, I didn’t have spring onions on the day I photographed this, but it tasted great regardless.  Having just treated myself to some fantastic Reebok Ventilators, I had a jar of SNS honey from Stockholme which came free with the shoes.  This was the perfect recipe to use it in and I was really pleased with the results.  My new weekend breakfast favourite and a great way to take myself back to Hong Kong memories.

HKday 047

 

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All the trimmings.

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I’ve written before about my love dips and there are a couple of recipes on this blog that I use regularly.  A new favourite is this smoked salmon dip.  Me and N were looking forward to our wedding anniversary recently and I said I’d make us a nice breakfast.  Smoked salmon is perfect for occasions and I decided to make a tasty dip with some that could also be spread on bagels.

It was a perfect choice for breakfast because it was fairly light and great with some toasted bagels.  Later I made some bagel chips by slicing a bagel and toasting the pieces on a baking tray under the grill.  These were fun when I got into a dipping mood…and you know how that goes.

This dip can be made with some basic ingredients and the addition of smoked salmon trimmings makes it easier on the pocket.  In my opinion, using the finest smoked salmon you can buy for a dip like this would be wasteful and foolish.  The flavours are still just as smokey and delicate with trimmings and the result sublime.

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Smoked salmon dip

300g cream cheese

150ml double cream

150g smoked salmon trimmings

12 cornichons (sliced)

1 tblspoon fresh chives (chopped)

1 good handful fresh dill (chopped)

1 heaped teaspoon horseradish sauce

sea salt and black pepper

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You’ll love how easy to prepare this dip is; five or six minutes, tops!  In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to whip the double cream until it just begins to stiffen.

Add the cream cheese, horseradish sauce, dill and pepper.  Combine using the mixer and finish by adding the cornichons and salmon trimmings.  Mix together and then taste.  Season with sea salt and plenty of black pepper.

However you choose to serve this, finish it by sprinkling a generous amount of freshly chopped chives on top.  It’s not just for colour, the faintly onion flavour goes so well with the salmon and helps keep everything light and fresh.

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Breakfast- Last Piece of Cake style!

I suppose you could call it breakfast.  After all, I ate it before midday, certainly before brunch, and a good deal earlier than elevenses.  Is it the best start to the day?  Well that depends on what you’re doing.  For me, it was perfect.

Some call it French toast, but in these parts, it is rather less romantically known as eggy bread.  I wonder how people would react to seeing that on a hotel menu.

I remember eating eggy bread with a good sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon and feeling incredibly satisfied.  It seemed to generate feelings similar to those brought on by eating lots of pancakes.  Lovely!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve become determined to include vanilla paste in recipes recently.  My fantastic mum got me some last month and I can’t get enough of that dark, dotted, vanilla syrup.  It’s so intense and so wonderfully perfect for all kinds of sweet fun!  I knew that I would have to include it in my indulgent breakfast.  The following recipe is not recommended to those on a calorie controlled diet.

Vanilla French toast with raspberries

1 slice thick white bread

1 egg

3 tblspoons soft brown sugar

3 tblspoons caster sugar

1 tblspoon milk

handful of frozen raspberries

half tspoon vanilla paste

butter (for frying)

I prepared the raspberries by heating them in a milk pan with a little water (two or three tablespoons) and stirring in the caster sugar until it had dissolved.  I continued to heat the raspberries until they began to soften and resemble a chunky jam.

Next I  started to whisk the egg, milk and brown sugar together.  Then I stirred in the vanilla.  I poured this mixture into a bowl and then lay the bread in it to soak up the vanilla loveliness.  After that, I turned it over to soak up the remaining liquid.

In a frying pan, I heated some butter until it was beginning to froth and then placed the slice of bread in it.  I cooked this gently for a few minutes on each side until the egg was cooked through and the bread not soggy.

Taking it off the heat, I used a fish slice to transfer it to a plate and drizzled over the raspberries.  There are prettier breakfasts, but by now I’m sure you’ve come to realise that here at The Last Piece of Cake, it’s all about the taste.  Enjoy!

 

Laos, ‘Nam and jam.

Jam in Japan?  Loaves in Laos?  Well, yes, actually, it’s not all noodles and rice.  Western travellers can enjoy the delights of local cuisine the world over, but sooner or later, the comfort of home comes calling.

You can thank the French for bringing their beautiful bread to Laos.  After jungle treks, boat rides and back packs, believe me, you will.  In Vietnam, street snacks often take the form of small baguettes smothered in  La vache qui rit. I can almost smell the freshly baked, crispy baguettes!

It’s a very personal thing, so I guess that everyone will have their own image of that go-to comfort food.  For my wife, no matter where we go and what we eat, eventually, that yearning for something familiar comes calling.  When it does, there’s nothing I can do to dissuade her; only spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce will do.  Try ordering that in the Mekong Delta.

I’m easier to please.  When I’ve had my fill of local dishes, I think of bread.  Good, fresh bread with butter and jam.  Plenty of jam.  You don’t have to travel to appreciate good bread though.  Recently, a friend (who knows me very well) bought me a beautiful loaf tin filled with very tasty jams, spoons, ribbons, recipe cards and wax discs.  There’s everything needed to make jam and a simple bread recipe to make a loaf too.  Needless to say that I’ve been dying to give it all a try.  Yesterday I got stuck in and made a gorgeous loaf to slice up and pile jam onto.

I used the recipe card that came in the set, but adapted it (the dough was too wet to work with at first).  The loaf came out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  I’m not a master bread maker, but I’m very happy with it.  Looks like I’ll be eating bread and jam every day this week.

Observe, if you will, the beauty of bread baked at night. Time to fetch the butter.

Honey bread

700g white flour

1 pint warm water

1 tblspoon honey

1 tspoon salt

1 tspoon dried yeast

Sift the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl.  Stir the honey into the warm water until dissolved and pour into a small well in the middle of the flour.  Use one hand to hold the bowl and the other to mix until you have a dough that will come away from the sides.  If it is too wet, add more flour.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead it gently.  Place into the large prepared loaf tin.  Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour or so.

After an hour, run a sharp knife down the length of the loaf and drizzle more olive oil on top.  Place in an oven at 180C for about half an hour.  To check if the loaf is done, tip it out carefully and tap the base.  It should have a hollow sound when ready.

Let the loaf cool on a wire rack for a little while.  Then, of course, it’s time to slice it thickly and let butter and jam do the rest.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ve left my loaf unattended and in my house, that’s what is known as a “schoolboy error”.

How to ruin a low GI recipe.

I made a lovely low GI recipe and what was the first thing I did?  Buried everything under sugar.  Well done, Dimitri.

The glycaemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates in different foods and how quickly they are absorbed into the bloodstream.  Foods that release their energy slowly usually have a rank of fifty-five or less and are therefore low GI foods.  Apart from a lower calorie intake, the benefits of eating low GI foods is that your body will have energy for longer periods and a reduced risk of health problems.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

As I’ve said before, I’m not a breakfast person, but this recipe has changed that…at least until the batter runs out.  I found a really cool low GI recipe for hotcakes and thought it would be fun to try one morning.  Of course, the original recipe lasted all of three minutes.  Well, this blog isn’t called The Last Piece of Fruit!  I wouldn’t have any readers if it was.  Truth is, I have a responsibility to you and to my taste buds and I take that responsibility very seriously.  Tasty food and nothing less.

I’ll certainly be writing about a true low GI recipe in the next few weeks, but until then, why not start a Saturday morning with a batch of these fruity hotcakes?  A jolly name for a jolly breakfast.

Fruity hotcakes

800g Greek yoghurt

280g wholemeal self-raising flour

250g frozen forest fruits

130g apricot jam

3 egg whites

1 egg yolk

 1 tspoon vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft and fluffy.  In another bowl, mix the flour, yoghurt, fruit, vanilla, jam and the egg yolk.  Once combined, fold in the egg whites.

To cook the hotcakes, heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and drop spoonfuls of the batter in.  Let the hotcakes fry gently and turn them over as they begin to brown.  To completely ruin the low GI qualities of the hotcakes, sprinkle with lots of caster sugar and serve hot.

Barbecue brunch bliss.

I don’t eat breakfast.  It’s not the choice of breakfast options that puts me off.  I like cereal and I like toast and I like most breakfast choices (though I did once turn my nose up at tuna salad in Kyoto- that’s not breakfast food!)  When I wake up, I just don’t feel like eating.  An hour is about the length of time needed for my body to realise that I’m no longer sleeping.  If I wake up close to lunch time, however, then you can pretty much forget everything I just said.  If lunch were a place, it would be my permanent residence.

Which brings us to brunch.  Brunch means different things to different people.  To me?  It’s an excuse to have lunch early (and if I’m clever, I get to have lunch too!)  Having made a stack of pulled pork, I chose to start the day off well by making full use of it in all its tasty glory.

I’ll just have to accept that what I made is not going to be everyone’s idea of tasty, but believe me, I enjoyed it a lot.  I toasted some wholemeal bread, slapped mayo on the bottom slice, piled up lambs lettuce, went crazy with the amount of pulled pork on top of that and finished it all off with a fried egg and a squirt of barbecue sauce.  Now tell me if that ain’t a way to get the day going!

Like I said, I don’t eat breakfast; but if the pulled pork lasts, you may see me at the breakfast table every darn morning!

Matzo, matzo man.

Reading Ruth Reichl‘s Garlic and Sapphires left me with among other things, a curiosity about the tastes and origins of some of her home-cooked food, as well as her restaurant experiences.  The simplest recipe included in her autobiographical story of food criticism in The Big Apple is called Matzo Brei.  Living in a pocket of North West England means that culture is something you have to actively look for.  A few miles out of town and the streets begin to display more diversity and a glimpse of the cultures beyond this sceptered isle.  Here though, in a coastal resort town with a transient population and a seasonal tide of unemployment and washed-up tourism, you’d have to look carefully to identify different faith communities and ethnic groups.  Growing up here means that children aren’t exposed to anything more than white Western culture.  It’s easy then, to understand my curiosity when reading a Jewish recipe for what has become a popular breakfast and comfort food for Jews all over the world.

It was with some excitement that I purchased a box of Matzo crackers a few weeks ago in my local supermarket’s world food section.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve been buttering the crackers and chomping noisily on them whilst preparing dinner each evening.  It wasn’t until today that I decided to make Matzo Brei using Ruth Reichl’s simple recipe.  As a big fan of scrambled eggs, I was hoping to find a new fun breakfast for Saturday mornings and was keen to sample this Jewish dish.

The crackers are broken up into pieces and soaked in some water in a colander until they are damp and beginning to soften.  Once added to a bowl with a couple of eggs, they’re seasoned with a little salt and stirred.  Butter is melted in a pan and the mixture cooked gently.  The mixture can be formed into little pancakes, or as in Ruth Reichl’s recipe, broken up like scrambled eggs.  I followed the recipe carefully (how could I go wrong?) and sat down eagerly with the finished dish and a glass of iced coffee (my new addiction).  I’m glad that I tried this out and it was certainly interesting, but lets just say that I won’t be in a hurry to ditch my buttery scrambled eggs each Saturday…

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