Archive for March, 2012

As I savour the last bite of my Pesto Chicken Quesadilla with its melted cheese oozing around white chicken breast pieces, I look back at an inspired menu where the leftovers played the starring role.

After Sunday’s lamb roast I could not face red meat again on Monday.  There is something about lamb that even though delicious at the time of consumption has a lingering fatty richness that can put me off eating red meat again too soon.

“So still needing to satisfy my carnivore cravings it was chicken that ticked all the boxes.”

I bought two large chicken breasts and asked my butcher to slice them into thin fillets as I was planning on coating them in breadcrumbs and frying them.  There is nothing more rapturous than a pile of golden crisp gallina empanada (scalloped chicken) dipped in mayonnaise or dare I say it again – Chilli jam!  But I digress…

…So with 0.5Kg of chicken fillets (way too much for one meal) I decided to alternatively make my own pesto sauce and have Italian-influenced pesto chicken.

Pesto Chicken

Into a food processor add toasted pine nuts, the juice and zest of a lemon, a chunk of parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, basil leaves and olive oil.  Blitz until you form a smooth paste.  Alternatively use a jar of shop bought pesto!

Place the chicken fillets into an oven dish and pour the pesto over.  Cook in an oven until cooked through and golden.

Monday dinner – Pesto Chicken with potatoes and vegetables.

Tuesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken with cauliflower and green beens.

Wednesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken wrap

Thursday dinner – leftover Pesto Chicken Quesadillas


1st: Place a flour tortilla in a dry frying pan.

2nd: Add grated cheese to cover the tortilla.

3rd: Chop the leftover, cooked chicken breasts and add spread over the tortilla.

4th: Just because I had in the cupboard, I also added piquillo peppers before placing the tortilla lid and turning the quesadilla over.

Please excuse the globe trotting  from Italy to Mexico but I couldn’t resist it

Andele! Andele! Arriba! Arriba! Epa! Epa! Epa! Yeehaw!



Posted: March 13, 2012 in cake
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Cake.  It’s not that difficult.  We all know the eating is easy, especially if in cupcake or muffin form, the joy about these being that they are also portable snacks of sugary love.  Actually the hard part is sometimes restraining yourself from eating that 3rd slice!

Seriously though, making a cake is not difficult but why do so many people think that it is?  Some dinner dishes require more effort and organisation than making a cake which can take around 30mins to make and bake.  And remember, whilst the cake is in the oven; you are doing nothing!

“Baking a cake is purely scientific; alchemy.  There is an elemental change between the ingredients.  Flour, sugar, butter and eggs the ubiquitous quartet of ingredients in every sponge cake.”

I read somewhere that there are 3 cardinal rules when baking a cake:

  • all ingredients should be at room temperature
  • the oven should be at the required temp when you put in the cake batter into the oven
  • keep to the tin dimensions specified – a cake demands mathematical respect.

All 3 make sense in a scientific way.  (i) If you add cold eggs to the creamed butter mixture it will probably cause the mixture to solidify and seize.  Cold butter would just be impossible to cream with the sugar.  (ii) if the oven is cold as when you put the batter in, the gradual rise in temp will cook the batter at a slow rate and then be undercooked by the end of its cooking time.  (iii) a wider tin will create a shallower sponge.

So with these few words of cake baking advice I proceeded to making a coffee and walnut cake.

Coffee and Walnut Cake

For the sponge:

1st: Cream together 225g of butter with 225g of caster sugar.

2nd: Add 225g of self raising flour and 4 eggs alternately until all the mixture is fully incorporated.

3rd: Make a very strong cup of coffee and add 2 tblspns to the mixture. Leave the remaining coffee for the icing.

4th: Add 50g of walnut pieces to the mixture.  Mix through.

5th: Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins. Place in a moderate oven and bake for 30mins.

For the buttercream icing:

1st: Sift 350g of icing sugar into a bowl.

2nd: Add 175g of butter to another bowl and gradually mix in the icing sugar.

3rd: Add a tblspn of coffee to this and mix in.

Once the two cake halves are cool you can start assembling your cake.  Decorate as you wish.  I don’t really go in for the ceremonious symmetrical design of walnut halves around the edge.  I prefer getting the remaining packet of walnut pieces and covering the top with it. Easier and much less fuss.

This cake calls for a cup of coffee with it to echo the coffee flavouring within the cake.  I think I hear a piece calling me now!


This Easter I am very fortunate to be travelling to Malaysia.  I have never been there but looking through travel guides and online comments it seems to be one of those places that involves a lot of pounding the streets and fueling that energy demand by stopping regularly for street food.  There are many Asian food influences on display to tempt the pallet.  From the traditional Malaysian cuisine to those of other Asian nations; Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Korean and Japanese – Malaysia is apparently a melting pot of flavours and cuisines and I for one can’t wait!

Realising that my enthusiasm for all things Asian needs to be somewhat abated as there are still a few weeks before I travel and I might spontaneously combust from the excitement, I decided to cook my version of a Thai Green Chicken Curry.

See Recipe Page

Red chopsticks in hand and smelling this fragrant bowl of Thai Curry took me back to December 2005, where I visited Hong Kong for a Christmas/New Year break, and stayed with a friend from University who had invited me over.

Sipping my after-dinner jasmine tea, I reminisce about that trip; about how excited I was about travelling to Asia.

However, looking through my Hong Kong photo album recently I was expecting to see photos of temples and buddahs, but noticed that many photos were of food or of me eating!  And it is only now, in 2012, that I realise how much of a culinary journey it was.  

“From the Chinese dim sum and jasmine tea that I had on my first few days there to the Japanese Teppanyaki Grill theatrics I shared with my hosts, food was central to my holiday.”

With that same initial excitement from way back in December 2005, I cannot wait to walk through the streets of Kuala Lumpur with a sweet potato ball snack in hand, smelling the intoxicating aroma of spices wafting from food stall and street cafe that caress your face and hug the soul.

Lei Ho!!