Monday, December 17, 2007

Tiramisu with tea - Tea-ramisu?

If, like me, you're not a coffee lover but you've always been tempted by the creamy delights of tiramisu, then here is an alternative version using Earl Grey tea and zingy limoncello. This has all the calorific overindulgence but none of the coffee flavour of the traditional Italian dessert.

Serves 4


150ml double cream
250ml marscapone
2 tblsps limoncello
1 tblsps vanilla extract
100ml brewed earl grey tea
24 sponge finger biscuits
Chocolate to decorate


1 Beat the double cream, marscapone, limoncello and vanilla until combined and forming soft peaks
2 Soak the sponge fingers in warm tea and arrange in a glass (I used martini glasses)
3 Swirl the cream mixture over the sponge fingers
4 Grate some chocolate over the top, or alternatively sprinkle with cocoa powder or grated Crunchie (Gordon Ramsay's favourite trick!)
5 Refrigerate for 1 hour to set the cream


You could also try this with green tea, mint or fruit teas and an appropriate spirit to replace the limoncello. Or just go for the traditional version with coffee and Tia Maria.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Good Food Show favourites

I had an absolute blast at the BBC Good Food Show on Saturday, Gordon Ramsay was on form (despite being hung over from birthday celebrations the night before), the stalls were fab and I really enjoyed watching the participants in the Gordon Ramsay Scholar - definitely some future stars in the making.

My absolute favourite treat (after many, many tastings!) was from the Snowdonia Cheese Company - they make some deliciously creamy cheddars like you've never tasted before. My personal favourite was the Green Thunder (Mature Cheddar with Garlic & Garden Herbs) although the BF was in rapture over the Amber Mist (Mature Cheddar with Whisky). They're stocked in delis across the country and come in distinctive colourful wax truckles, so look out for them!

Friday, November 30, 2007

How to peel a pomegranate


Pomegranates can be tricky blighters, but not when you have the knack!

1. Score the skin of the pomegranate from top to bottom, with a sharp knife.
2. Submerge the fruit in a bowl of cold water.
3. Peel it underwater, then pull apart the seeds.
4. The skin and pith will float to the top so they're easily discarded, and the seeds will all sink.
5. Drain and enjoy!

And once you've done that, why not try some delicious Pork Tenderloin with Black Pepper and Pomegranate Molasses?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cranberry sauce sorbet (sauce-bet!)


I must admit this was a bit of an experiment, but luckily for me (and the BF) it was a successful one second time around! Inspired by my latest book purchase, McGee on Food & Cooking, and being prematurely in the Christmas spirit but not quite ready for cranberry sauce, I decided to try and make some cranberry sorbet instead.

McGee's is a fabulous book, especially for geeky science types like me. It doesn't contain a single recipe but it does tell you absolutely everything you could ever want to know about every ingredient and cooking technique you could think of. Heston Blumenthal is apparently a huge fan.

Sorbet, according to McGee, is simply a frozen mixture of fruit juice or puree, 25-35% sugar and 0.5% acid. I ended up plumping for a fairly heavy sugar content as cranberries can sometimes be on the sour side. They also need diluting with water - my first attempt was more like cranberry sauce-bet and the BF couldn’t eat it! However, his pain is your gain and here is the successful end product:


300g fresh cranberries
300g sugar
2 tblsps orange juice
600ml water

1. Put the cranberries and water into a heavy based pan and cook until the cranberries have broken down. Sieve out the skins to leave a diluted puree.

2. Return the puree to the pan with the sugar and orange juice. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Be careful, it can (and did in my case) burn!

3. Pour into a container and freeze for four hours or so. Simple!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Butternut squash curry with squash seed couscous

I know, I know - more butternut squash! But bear with me, this really is a delicious, seasonal and healthy vegetarian after-work supper.

Serves 4


1 butternut squash
6 tomatoes, quartered
1 bag of baby spinach
1 onion, diced
3tsps curry paste (I like madras, but choose any tomato based paste to your taste)
Olive oil
Sea salt
200g couscous
A handful of coriander

1. Peel and cut the butternut squash into chunks. Reserve the seeds, wash them and dry in some kitchen towel.

2. Sweat the onion in some oil for a few minutes until translucent, then add three teaspoonfuls of curry paste and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, squash chunks and 200ml of water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the tomatoes have broken down.

4. Meanwhile, toss the butternut squash seeds with the salt and olive oil and then grill until they are crispy and golden (watching to make sure they don't burn!).

5. Mix the seeds with the couscous, cover with 250ml boiling water and leave covered for 5 minutes.

6. Mix the spinach into the curry for the last couple of minutes of cooking so that it wilts into the sauce.

7. Break up the couscous with a fork, mix through the coriander and serve with the curry.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

December food magazine roundup

As you would expect, the new batch of December editions are all about Christmas food. Here's the roundup:

*Best for loads of content is Delicious with their biggest issue ever and input from Gordon (fave cookbooks) and Nigella (tasty nibbles).

*Best for a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings is Good Food with either goose or turkey and a full time-plan

*Best for young, free and singles is Olive with a fab Christmas meal for two

*Best for vegetarians - a tie between Olive with its stunning filo centrepiece and Delicious with Simon Rimmer's gorgeous recipes

But if you really can't decide, do what I do and get all three!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Butternut squash & sage tartlets

Makes 36 mini-tartlets or one 12" tart

- Pastry

250g plain flour
125g butter, pre-frozen
1 egg
2 tbsp iced water
A pinch of salt

- Filling

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthways. Reserve the seeds - they are a delicious snack if you clean them off, toss in sea salt and olive oil and roast in the oven for a few minutes.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
3 egg yolks (don't forget to freeze the egg whites to use in meringues!)
250ml double cream
200g Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped fresh sage leaves (about a handful)


Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 350 F / Gas 4

1. Season the squash halves, place on a baking tray and then bake for 40-50 minutes until the flesh is soft and tender.

2. Scoop out the squash flesh and with a fork or potato masher, mash it until smooth. Set it aside to cool off.

3. Now for the pastry. Of course you could cheat and use ready made shortcrust, but it is good fun and not as hard as you would think to make your own. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and grate in the frozen butter. I find this to be a particularly effective method as I have rather hot hands which are great for bread but not so effective for pastry!

4. Rub the butter and flour together very gently so that the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. It is fine for it to look quite lumpy.

5. Mix the egg and iced water and then mix with the flour with a knife.

6. Form the pastry mixture into a ball and wrap tightly with clingfilm before putting it into the fridge to rest for fifteen minutes.

7. Whilst the pastry is resting, you can finish the filling. Beat together the cream, eggs, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, mashed squash and sage. Season to taste.

8. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out on a floured work surface, cut into small rounds and fit into mini tart tins. Return to the fridge for a few minutes before taking out and trimming any overhang at the top of the tins. Put a circle of baking parchment into each tart case and fill with a couple of baking beans.

9. Bake the tart cases for ten minutes, then remove the beans and papers and bake for a further three minutes.

10. Once the cases have cooled slightly, add the filling and bake the tarts for twenty minutes at 160c / 310 F. The tartlets should be just set - watch out because they will be hot but very tasty!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to make risotto ahead

I am currently almost at the end of the Divertimenti Cooking With Confidence course and absolutely loving every minute of it. Our teacher Sarah Benjamin (a fabulously energetic chef, importer and now co-author of The Borough Market Cookbook - Meat and Fish) is an absolute star and has been imbueing us with a myriad of useful hints and tips over the last few weeks. One really useful one is how to make risotto in advance. I absolutely love risotto and make it all the time, but in a dinner party setting all that simmering and stirring seems a bit antisocial.

Worry no more though, fellow princesses, it is possible to part-cook your risotto in advance and leave just a couple of minutes of stirring for the night itself. Here are the steps you need to follow:

1 Cook the risotto in the normal way, until 2/3 of the required liquid has been absorbed.

2 Take the risotto off the heat and spread into a baking tray lined with cling film. The thinner the better as we are trying to cool it down rapidly.

3 Put the risotto into the fridge.

4 Once you need to plate up, return the cooled risotto to the pan with the final third of hot stock.

5 Stir until the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is al dente and creamy.

6 Serve to your super-impressed dinner guests.

If you're lacking inspiration on the risotto front, Bear Necessities has a tasty Citrus risotto with garlic chilli prawns, whilst Blogjam has a somewhat scary but nonetheless home-grown Garden snail risotto!

It is also possible to cook risotto in the oven, as ably demonstrated by The Passionate Cook and her Oven baked mushroom risotto.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Creamy roast tomato soup

Tomato soup - before roasting
I have been having a soup frenzy since being back in the UK, it's something about the delicious crisp weather we've been having that makes me want to curl up on the sofa with something hot, hearty and comforting. This recipe is inspired by an Ainsley Harriott number, with extra chillies for a bit of a kick.


8 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into halves
1 red onion, cut into quarters
1 head of garlic, cut in half across the middle (it's important to cut across the cloves to make them easy to squeeze out of their skins later on)
A few sprigs of thyme
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Olive oil for drizzling
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tin of tomatoes
150ml creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 200C/ Gas Mark 6

Fill an oven-proof saucepan with the tomatoes, onion, garlic and thyme all covered with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt, chilli flakes and pepper. I find this easier than a roasting tin when it comes to whiz the tomatoes with the blender later. Roast the tomato mix for half an hour or so until the tomatoes are nice and soft. Don't worry if they blacken slightly.

Fish out the onions and garlic into a bowl. Pour the stock over the tomatoes and put them back into the oven for ten more minutes.

Whilst the tomatoes are continuing to cook, pop the now gorgeously sweet and golden garlic cloves and onion quarters out of their skins into the bowl of a food processor and whiz to a sticky paste (I used the slicer attachment to my Panasonic stick blender - a bargain at 20 quid from Tesco!).

Once the tomatoes are done, take them out of the oven. Fish out the thyme and throw it away. Add the onion/garlic mix and the tinned tomatoes to the roasted tomatoes/stock mix and whiz with a stick blender to a smooth soup. Reheat on the stove until piping hot.

Finally, stir in the creme fraiche and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arkle Manor - delicious Dorking dining

Arkle Manor exterior

One of the places I have been missing whilst I've been in Hong Kong is the Arkle Manor, near Dorking in Surrey. It is a traditional looking and huge country pub, with a refreshingly modern menu. This is no gastro-pub though, more a reasonably priced and tasty modern restaurant that just happens to have a bar with huge log fires to lounge by after you've finished your meal. It is very family friendly and the staff are genuinely interested in your enjoyment of the food.

When the BF and I rocked up for Sunday lunch, the restaurant was fully packed out. However, the delightful staff suggested we sit in the bar and we were still able to order from the full restaurant menu.

Arkle Manor pavlova

The BF tucked into roast beef with all the trimmings, whilst I went for roast red snapper on a bed of crab mash (genius) with broccoli florets and a balsamic glaze. We then indulged in puddings - a ginger sticky toffee pud for the BF and a sumptuous mango fool pavlova for me. The fool pavlova was such a great combination and was presented as a sticky mound of tiny meringue pieces bound together with creamy, fruity fool and chunks of mango, all drizzled with a vibrant coulis.

Bookings strongly recommended.

Arkle Manor
Reigate Road, Betchworth, Surrey RH3 7HB
01737 842110

Saturday, October 6, 2007

7 essential Hong Kong foodie experiences

This is it - after seven months living in Hong Kong we're heading back home to the UK today. In honour of our move I thought a list of the best bits of Hong Kong wouldn't go amiss. If you're planning a holiday here or moving over to work then these might just come in handy.

So with no further ado, these are my top Hong Kong foodie experiences:

1. Indulge in some high end dining at Hutong, Felix, Gaddi's, Toscana or M at the Fringe.

2. Brush up your chopstick skills then try some authentic Chinese cuisine at Spring Deer, Yung Kee or XinJiShi.

3. Find the latest hot tables with OpenRice, Hip Hong Kong or the Word of Mouth guide.

4. Haggle at the street market in Central, anyone for a fresh fish head?

5. Get away for a weekend in Macau for tasty egg tarts, distinctive Macanese cuisine and gambling.

6. Learn from a pro at a cookery class with Martha Sherpa. She teaches traditional Chinese, Thai and Dim Sum.

7. Or just stay at home and dream, by reading one of the many Hong Kong food blogs. Two of my favourites are Girl Eats Hong Kong and Cha Xiu Bao.

There may be a brief hiatus before I get reconnected to the net, and then The Princess and the Recipe will start in its new incarnation as a UK food blog.
Joi gin!
The Princess

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hutong (TST, Hong Kong) review

Soft shell crabs with Szechuan peppers

Our time in Hong Kong is drawing to a close, and for the grand finale what better place to dine than Hutong? The decor is dark and sultry, the view is spectacular and the food is contemporary Northern Chinese cuisine at its absolute best. This is my favourite restaurant in Hong Kong, and quite possibly in the far!

Soft shell crabs with Szechuan peppers

We chose our three favourite dishes from previous visits - first the Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Szechuan Red Peppers. The presentation is beautiful and the crispy crabs that you fish out from the pile of peppers are deliciously meaty, but be warned - this dish is very, very spicy!

Hutong style deboned lamb ribs

Next up was the Crispy De-boned Lamb Ribs in Hutong Style. The BF and I both absolutely love these. The ribs are de-boned, the flesh marinated in spices and slow-cooked until it melts in the mouth, the skin fried to crispy bliss, and then the whole dish is re-assembled and served up on a wooden platter with dipping sauce and lashings of garlic. You just can't get better than this - if you go to Hutong you just HAVE to eat the lamb!

And finally...

Asparagus with salted fish

...the Steamed Asparagus with Salty Fish. The salty fish aspect divided us - the BF hated it and I loved it (more for me!), however we both agreed that the asparagus was super-duper. It was tender without a hint of woodiness, but yet with just the right amount of crisp bite.

If you are in Hong Kong and you only go to one restaurant, make it Hutong!

Hutong, 28/F 1 Peking, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
+852 3428 8342

Monday, October 1, 2007

Authentic Cantonese at Yung Kee

To celebrate National Day of the PRC (or, more importantly, the fact that we get a bank holiday because of it), the BF and I decided to head to Yung Kee. This restaurant prides itself in being the only Chinese restaurant to make the Fortune Best 15 in the World (in 1968!) and is famous for its roast goose.

The restaurant is easy to find and, although it is just a stone's throw away from the ex-pat debauchery of Lan Kwai Fong, this place is mainly filled with large Chinese family groups. It's wise to book ahead, which you can do online, as it gets pretty busy.

We decided to try the somewhat pricey $780 "Deluxe" set menu for two, as we weren't sure what to try. To kick off, we were served up a 1,000 year old duck egg and some pickled ginger. The ginger was tasty but we weren't quite so sure about the duck egg - it certainly didn't look appetising with a greyish, translucent white and a putrid, slimy looking greenish grey yolk. The BF found it completely nauseating and I could just tolerate about tolerate the intense boiled egg flavour, although I wouldn't want to eat a whole one! We both agreed that we preferred Kylie Kwong's less extreme version that I had previously cooked as part of a Weekend Cookbook Challenge.

We were relieved to be served up with some delicious Deep Fried Shrimp with Mini Crab Roe next. These were washed down nicely with some Tsing Tao beer.

Our Roasted Goose with Preserved Pig Trotter in Soy Sauce was unfortunately sans pig trotter, as these had already sold out by 8pm. However, it didn't detract in any way from the gloriousness of the dish. The meat was succulently fatty with a crisp, crackly skin and definitely worthy of the 2002 Gold award at the Best of the Best Culinary Awards.

The Abalone with Mushroom in Superior Soup was a tasty clear broth with a subtle seafood flavour. The Steamed Garoupa with Chinese Ham was pleasant enough, but nothing in particular to write home about, as were the Wonton Noodles.

Finally, the Mango Pudding seemed to have genuine chunks of mango in, which made a pleasant surprise and a bit of a change from the usual Angel Delight-style puddings most Chinese restaurants serve up.

Overall, the meal was slightly disappointing for the price, but there were the occasional flashes of brilliance which made it worthwhile. It was interesting to note on re-visiting the menu that the two dishes we loved (the shrimp and the goose) were the two award winning elements of the menu.

My advice would be, don't bother with the set menu - go a la carte and pick some of the award winners. The goose is out of this world and worth a visit by itself, but just don't expect the same superlative standards of every dish on the menu.

Yung Kee
38-40 Wellington St, Central
Hong Kong
+852 2522 1624

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mooncakes for the mid-autumn festival

It was Mid-Autumn Festival on Tuesday and I thought I would share with you a traditional delicacy that is everywhere in Hong Kong this time of year - the mooncake.

First though, I must apologise for the atrociously out-of-focus photo. I have been suffering from the flu and for most of this week I've been shaking like a leaf, hence the ropey shot.

Mooncakes have an unusual taste and are probably not what the average westerner would call a cake - they're neither sweet nor sour and, although I don't really like them, they are strangely addictive!

The outside is an intricately decorated pastry crust, which contains the rather stodgy not-quite-peanut-butter, not-quite-marzipan flavour lotus paste plus an added bonus - a salted duck egg yolk, which symbolises the moon.

Of course, nothing is sacred and modern versions abound - from strawberry and pineapple flavoured fillings to the full on Haagen-Dazs ice-cream version. However the yucky one above is the real thing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How to use chopsticks

A lot of people think using chopsticks is difficult but if you're visiting Hong Kong and want to try the authentic local food you will need to brush up on both your skills and etiquette. Here are a few dos and don'ts to help make life a little easier...
DO have a go - most of my Chinese colleagues have been very impressed when I've tried to eat with chopsticks, however lame the attempt.
DON'T stab at food, it's considered rude.
DO hold your chopsticks in your right hand, even if you're left-handed. It stops you clashing with your neighbour when seated at a circular table.
DON'T prop your chopsticks vertically in your food - it is reminiscent of the way incense sticks are burnt and has morbid connotations.
DO use shorter chopsticks to start off with - it makes handling the food easier.
DON'T point at others with your chopsticks - it's the Chinese equivalent of flipping the bird and is condsidered to be unlucky.
DO try watching an online video like this one from if you are completely clueless. Or a hilariously funny Japanese comedy guide if you need cheering up.
DON'T rest your chopsticks unevenly - line them up carefully in the chopstick rest (again, to do otherwise is considered unlucky).
DO hold your bowl up high and shovel the rice into your both, it's considered perfectly good manners.
and finally...
DO remember that practice makes perfect!
Photo courtesy of John Evans

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In praise of markets

Niamh over at Eat Like a Girl has some beautiful photos of a Parisian food market on her blog, and this inspired me to visit the Central wet market here in Hong Kong.

The wet market is full of stalls selling "wet goods", i.e. fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Certainly beats Park 'n Shop anyday!

The terrible thing is that the Central market is under threat from developers - currently there are plans to bulldoze the whole area and replace it with (yet more) 30-storey skyscrapers.

It would be a tragedy if Hong Kong lost these kinds of sights, it's what makes it really unique and I would urge you to visit if you're ever in Hong Kong. You can also help to register your dismay at the development plans - add your name to the petition over at Save the Street Market.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The UK's gone cheese crazy!

One of the big things I miss about the UK is cheese, and judging by recent press my fellow countrymen back home are enjoying it more than ever.

Alex James of Blur fame has been posting The Cheese Diaries as part of the fabulous Observer Food Monthly blog.

There's cheese tasting and cheese making galore at the Great British Cheese Festival, a two day extravaganza being held in Oxfordshire by the Cheese Web next weekend.

The Foody has a whole encyclopedia of cheese, whilst down in Somerset they're even giving cheeses names. Wedginald, a now world-famous cheese with it's own website and 1.5 million viewers around the world, was graded and tested this week to an audience of thousands.

However, over in the US, they're not quite so keen!

Photo thanks to Tellgraf

Thursday, September 20, 2007

5 recipes that are fit for a princess

It seemed fitting that I should share with you a few regal recipes from around the blogosphere so here are my top five of the moment:

1. The Culinary Princess, over in Oz, has some fantastically gooey looking brownies and a fab post about Bangkok seafood market on her site.

2. Food Blogga is a girl after my own heart with her love of high quality ingredients, and she doesn't stint on her saffron-infused Pea Pasta fit for a Princess.

3. Lovescool has a luscious and very sophisticated Princess Cake on her site, plus lots of behind the scenes info from her NYC bakehouse.

4. Fellow regal blogger and Daring Baker the Pastry Princess has a whole blog full of mouth-watering food porn and dessert recipes.

5. Last but not least, Never Bashful with Butter has some delicious Pretty Princess Cupcakes on her site. The icing is flawless and the recipe sounds pretty good too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I am absolutely in love with these Munchler's lunch boxes. they're oh-so-cute and perfect for kick-starting a healthy take-your-lunch-to-work (or school!) regime, sadly they're only available in the US though.

Underwater dinner!

Some crazy guys and girls in London are getting together for the world's largest underwater dinner, held at The Park Club in West London. Seats are limited and are 100quid a head, all for charity, with ballgown (from Gharani Strok no less) or tux included.

With expert diving instruction from the masters at The London School of Diving, a PADI 5* Centre, there's no need to worry if you've never done it before.

Just don't forget to bring your cossie!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


We've just got back from a fantastic weekend in Macau. Only 40 miles away from Hong Kong and easily reached by ferry, it seemed like the perfect getaway for our last month in Asia.

Macau is another Special Administrative Region like Hong Kong and was handed back to China by the Portuguese in 1999. There are still a lot of mediterranean influences there, both architecturally and food-wise, giving it a different feel to Hong Kong.

Our first dinner was eaten at our hotel, The Westin, and was very good if standard hotel fare. The resort was very luxurious and away from the hustle, bustle and gambling of the central district.

On the Saturday we ventured forth into the centre of Macau, visiting the fort and the ruins of Paul's cathedral. We then wandered down one of the busy side streets leading off the ruins, and found a foodie mecca selling all kinds of local delicacies.

One of the must have treats of Macau is their famous Portuguese egg tart.

At only HK$6 a pop, you can't really go wrong with these babies.

This is quite different from the egg tarts you get in Hong Kong with a flakier pastry and a deliciously artery-hardening glutinous egg custard filling.

We also tasted some squidgy and spicy ginger sweets, before heading to the casino to witness the Hong Kongers losing their money on the cards.

To round the trip off we had dinner at Fernandos, on the recommendation of my fellow hounds on the boards at Chowhound.

This is a relaxed place - no reservations and no credit cards - you just turn up, put your name on the waiting list and kick back with a couple of beers until your name is called.

The restaurant is laid back, with basic decor and fabulously rustic Portuguese food. We ate a generous serving of sticky garlic prawns, Macanese rice (somewhere between egg fried rice and paella) and a plate of piquant Portuguese chorizo, all washed down with a jug of sangria. The total bill came to around HK$400, less than 30 quid.

Overall, a brilliant weekend and if you are in Hong Kong for more than a couple of days I would recommend a visit to Macau.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spring Deer in TST, Hong Kong

We had some delicious Peking duck at Spring Deer in Mody Rd, TST at the weekend. I highly recommend this place, but don't come expecting luxury. This is a proper, noisy, authentic Chinese restaurant complete with fluorescent lighting and lazy Susans. Think cheery and functional rather than luxurious. The service is good if brusque (they do speak English) and it is always splitting at the seams with Chinese families.

Watch out for it though - the sign's hard to spot!

Spring Deer, 42 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong +852 2366 4012

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Felix at the Peninsula

The BF's parents are in town this weekend so last night we took them for dinner at Felix, somewhere I have been wanting to revisit since I first started this blog. It is the perfect place for taking out-of-towners, with good quality (if slightly unadventurous) food, a fantastic view of the harbour, a very pleasant ambience and unobtrusive staff.

After a somewhat underwhelming harbour light show, viewed from the heaving circular bar upstairs, we headed down to our table. The bread selection was one of the better ones I have had in Hong Kong, with the sun dried tomato and seaweed flatbread going down a treat.

To start I had a roasted porcini risotto which was just the right creamy consistency, robust and full of flavour. The BF tucked into some foie gras whilst his parents had the risotto and a foamy lobster bisque.

I then moved on to a tasty main course of pancetta-wrapped lamb with fingerlings (my over-active imagination conjured up all kinds of oddities when I spotted these on the menu but it turned out just to be a variety of potatoes!). The others ate between them some buttermilk poached chicken, scottish salmon and roasted duck. No new boundaries being broken here, but the food was excellent quality and everyone was happy.

For dessert I decided on the Felix apple tart, which was served on a warmed slab of marble and came topped with tangy lemongrass and honey ice cream and some sculpted spun sugar. The BF and his mum took the fruity cheescake and his dad the "Tropical Island". The presentation of all the desserts was beautiful and I think this is where Felix really excels.

All in all a great night out. Don't come here if you're looking for the cutting edge, but if it's good quality food, panoramic views of Hong Kong island and fantastic people watching you want then this is definitely the place to come.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Show and Tell - Kylie Kwong's Soy Sauce Eggs

As a Brit living in Hong Kong, I decided to make a recipe from Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking as my entry for the weekend cookbook challenge over at I like to cook. This is a great book with some fantastic pictures and it helps you to achieve an authentic Chinese flavour without breaking a sweat.

The recipe I went for was on p154 - Soy Sauce Eggs. I chose this as it's Kylie's slightly westernised (and less yucky sounding!) version of a traditional Chinese delicacy "1,000 year old eggs".


6 eggs

1 cup light soy sauce

2 tblspoons dark soy sauce

1 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

10 slices of ginger

Start by boiling a saucepan of water and boiling the eggs for six minutes. Refresh the eggs under some cold water and peel them. Be very careful as the eggs are only partially cooked at this point - I was a bit too keen and my six eggs were reduced to three after some over zealous peeling resulted in ovoid carnage!

Now combine the water, soy sauces, sugar and ginger in a saucepan, boil for a minute or so and then reduce to a bare simmer. Carefully add the eggs and leave simmering and covered for 1 hour. You will need to turn them every now and again otherwise you'll end up with a grubby tide mark.

After the hour is up, take the saucepan off the heat and leave the eggs to cool in the liquid, still turning occasionally. Finally, cut each egg in half and serve with some of the cooking stock spooned over the top.

Monday, September 3, 2007

M at the Fringe

We had dinner at M at the Fringe at the weekend and, unlike the first time we visited, we were rather disappointed. Food excellent, service leaving a little to be desired.

We arrived slightly early and were seated at our table. The decor in this place is gorgeous and we were tucked nicely into a corner which was great. I started with a "head to tail" terrine of ox-tongue and ox-tail and the BF tucked into the torchon of foie gras. So far so good...

No sooner had our starter plates been taken away than we were served up our mains - we both plumped for the crispy suckling pig, which M is famous for. Again, this was deliciously crispy (and I've tasted a few crispy pigs), with melt in the mouth meat, tasty vegetables and not just "a good pig sauce" but a great one. The only niggle was that it was just served a little too promptly for me. I really like to relax a bit when I'm out at a nice restaurant and I felt like we were being rushed along.

The same story when we'd finished our mains...we were immediately served up with dessert. In fact the poor waiter was rushing so much to serve us that he knocked my pavlova over as he was sprinting over to serve us. He then tried to prop it back up, which quite simply wasn't happening, and then asked me if it was ok or whether he should take it back. Now, at this point I should have said yes, please take it back, but I didn't - I swapped with the BF who was also partaking of the pavlova! But really I think it should have gone straight back to the kitchen, without the waiter asking me if I'd put up with a collapsed version. Incidentally, the pavlova was delicious and probably the main reason for visiting M at the Fringe. The meringe was the perfect texture and was served up with lashings of fresh cream, tropical fruits and a passionfruit coulis. However, a bit more care on the part of the waiter would have gone a long way.

Finally, we came to order coffees. However, we'd been so rushed throughout that we hadn't finished our wine and to add insult to injury our coffees were served up before we'd finished.

I really enjoyed this place the first time we went and now I feel like we have to go back a third time just to give them a chance to redeem themselves! It's such a shame to have had such beautiful food ruined by a few careless slip ups on the behalf of the waiters. Come on guys, chill out, this isn't McDonalds!

Friday, August 31, 2007

New blog discoveries

Thanks to Pim, I have discovered a couple of new tasty food blogs:

Ms. Glaze's Pommes d'Amour - the French write a lot of food blogs, but luckily for me this one is written in English. Ms. Glaze is an ex-teacher who now graces the kitchens of a 3-star restaurant in Paris. She has some fascinating stories from behind the scenes and the recipes are pretty good too.

Foodbeam - a beautifully stylish and girly baking blog, again from France (the Cote d'Azur this time) but written in English.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New lunch menu at the Ebury

The Ebury in Chelsea has a new summer lunch menu. I really like this place...great food and only a stone's throw from London Victoria. Unfortunately the lunch menu doesn't include the divine chocolate fondant with peanut ice cream and honeycomb that I have previously sampled there, but it looks pretty good all the same! I will definitely be paying a visit when I'm back in Blighty.

Anyone for strawberry pasta?

La Favorita Fish, an Italian company specialising in gourmet products is now being stocked at Harvey Nichols foodhall in the UK. I don't think it's got to Hong Kong as yet but I'd be very intrigued to try some of their ingredients, particularly the Strawberry-Barolo Tagliatelle and the Tasty Sauce.

The website also has quite a few unusual recipes, so I would recommend checking it out!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Martha's Tom Yam Koong

I promised you a recipe, so here it is! At Martha's cooking school last weekend I learnt a delicious Tom Yam Koong recipe which I'd like to share with you. This is the traditional recipe with no cheeky short cuts. Did you know that the reason the restaurant version is often milky rather than clear is because they add milk to disguise the bitter taste from the herbs where the soup has been made too long in advance? No such shenanigans at Martha's class - her recipe is the real deal.

This makes enough for 2 large bowls.

2.5 cups water
150g fresh button mushrooms (or straw mushrooms if you can get them), halved
3 tblspoons fish sauce
2.5 tblspoons lime juice
2 large stalks of lemongrass
2 large coriander roots
5 individual kaffir lime leaves
20g galengal (similar to ginger but a more subtle flavour)
10 whole fresh birds eye chillies
225g shrimps with shells
Coriander leaves to garnish

Start by crushing and roughly chopping the lemongrass, crushing the coriander root, tearing the lime leaves into a few pieces, crushing and slicing the galengal and bruising the chillies. Martha used a meat tenderising hammer to do this - it looked very satisfying indeed! Take that! And that! You should start smelling some delicious aromas.

Next, the shrimps. Martha recommended buying these live, then putting them in the freezer to die. Once they've snuffed it, twist off their heads! Yes, this is a violent recipe, perfect if you've had a tough day at the office. Leave the tails on as they help the shrimps to stay together whilst cooking. Don't forget to devein - we don't want all that nasty stuff in our soup. That's all our ingredients prepared.

In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, add the lemon grass, galengal, coriander root and lime leaves then let it boil for one minute.

Add the shrimps and the mushrooms and submerge in the soup - don't stir. You should see the
shrimps turning nice and pink. Once the soup has come to the boil again add the fish sauce and chillies. Remove from the heat straight away and add the lime juice.

Now we're ready to eat. Just in case (like me) you don't realise, you only actually eat the prawns, mushrooms and the broth itself - all the herbs are just for flavour! Delicously hot yet fresh and healthy tasting.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thai cooking with Martha Sherpa

I am exhausted, wiped out, knackered. You see, I'm still recovering from a hard day's chopping, pounding and stir frying with Martha Sherpa.

I enrolled on the one day Thai intensive course - now that my time in Hong Kong is coming to an end I really thought I should learn some Asian cooking whilst I'm out here. If you fancy something more authentically Hong Kong, Martha also teaches Chinese cooking and Dim Sum.

I was slightly put off by the dilapidated exterior of the building when I arrived - however once I was inside the kitchen I was relieved to find that everything was meticulously clean and tidy.

The course was excellent value as there were only two students so we really got a lot of one-on-one attention. My classmate Coco was also from Surrey in the UK so I felt at home right away! Martha is an absolute mine of information and gave us lots of handy hints and tips, plus where in Hong Kong to find all the ingredients and equipment that we would need. I will definitely be visting the WanChai wet market for herbs and Shanghai Street for kitchen tools...

We started the day with three demonstration dishes. First Martha whipped up some Tom Yam Koong, showing us the traditional way to make the dish. The herbs were incredibly fragrant - we learnt how to use lemongrass, galengal and coriander root (not sure how I'm going to find this one back home!). The resulting soup was clear rather than red and milky as you see in restaurants. The flavour was deliciously fresh and hot, yet without being spicy.

Martha also whipped up a couple of fish dishes. Coco and I quivered as we helped to fry one of the unlucky pisceans in a wok full of boiling oil! Still not sure whether I would try this one at home, but the sweet and sticky 3 favour sauce it came with would definitely work for dipping fish or crab cakes. I will be posting a recipe for this one once I've experimented a bit!

Lunchtime was spent tucking in to Martha's freshly made delicacies. Then, armed with huge machetes, it was our turn to do the cooking.

We chopped (finely!), pounded in a pestle and mortar, and stir-fryed until our arms almost dropped off. We were rewarded with delicious Pad Thai, Green Curry and Penang Curry kebabs.

I would definitely recommend Martha's!

Gaddi's tasting menu

It was our 1st anniversary this week so we decided to splash out and try the tasting menu at Gaddi's. The dining room was similar to Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton, very traditional and glitzy, with the addition of a sultry jazz singer and band. The ambience was just perfect, the music lovely but unobtrusive, the service attentive without being obsequious. I was already impressed and so far we had only tasted the water and bread selection...

We started off with an amuse-bouche of tuna tartare on a bed of fresh vegetables. This isn't the sort of thing I would usually choose but I can say I have definitely been converted. The fish was beautifully tender, almost melting in the mouth. The tomatoes and beans provided a contrasting fresh crunch.

Our starter came next - foie gras with cubes of rhubarb jelly and a rhubarb puree. My two absolute favourite things in one dish! I have never seen foie gras served with rhubarb before but they tasted very good together. Unlike my experience at Spoon, I had just the right amount of crisp but yielding brioche to go with. A sweet white wine set this dish off perfectly.

I'm afraid I gave up on photo taking after the starter, I was just too interested in focussing on eating...

The first course was some pork belly served with a crisp, wafer thin piece of bacon, poached apple slices and black pudding. Quite a traditional combination but nonetheless delicious.

Next we moved on to salmon poached at 55 degrees in olive oil, with asparagus and a fennel sauce. This was categorically the most beautiful salmon I have ever tasted. Interestingly, the wine choice for this course was a red, but a deliciously soft and light one.

Our final main was roasted pigeon. I can't remember what this was served with - the four glasses of wine must have been doing their job!

For dessert, something I wouldn't normally choose, passionfruit sorbet with nougat. I was overwhelmed by this dish - the sorbet was fresh and fruity and contrasted well with the more solid sweet flavours of the nougat.

For me, the best thing about tasting menus is that it forces you to try new things and you often find them to be delicious. Otherwise I always end up plumping for chocolate fondant with red cherries wherever I go! This meal wasn't cheap at HK$1700 each including wine, if that isn't extravagant enough for you there is also a more ambitious ten course version...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday lunch at Toscana

Linguine with Lobster & Eggplant

Ocean Trout on Green Vegetable, Parsley Sauce, Chanterelle Mushroom

We finally did Toscana was absolutely divine and very refined. The BF has been here several times with clients on the expense budget recently, but I've never been as I have frequently been pointing out! The only way to stop me from sulking was to treat me to sample the cuisine, however as expenses don't stretch to smoothing over domestic incidents we decided to opt for the Saturday lunch at HK$280 a head.

I've actually never been to the Ritz back in London. Well I tried once but as I was wearing jeans and slightly worse for wear I was ever-so-politely turned away, making the whole Ritz experience was completely new to me. It didn't disappoint however, we were seated in a gorgeous if chintzy ballroom, complete with chandeliers and ladies lunching. The only thing that was really missing was a harbour view, but as it was a smoggy day I guess it didn't matter!

We started with the antipasti buffet and both made a beeline for the delicious salmon on the BF's recommendation. We then proceeded to try absolutely everything on the table. This is what Italian food is all about for me - mouthwatering salamis, sun-dried tomatoes, plump olives, salads, it was all absolutely beautiful. As was the bread, I must add.

We were then offered a bewildering choice of mains. The BF went for the Ocean Trout on Green Vegetable, Parsley Sauce, Chanterelle Mushroom and I had the fabulously rich Linguine with Lobster and Eggplant. It didn't look like much but the subtle flavours more than made up for it.

Mains digested and we were off to the dessert buffet. I sampled a tiny chocolatey fresh fruit tart, raspberries with cream and a blackberry pudding with beautifully speckled vanilla custard.
All in all a very satisying experience for less than the cost of a starter on the a-la-carte menu.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some proper Chinese food

A rather surprised looking sweet & sour fish!

Last night I ate out with the office at XinJiShi Shanghai Restaurant in Causeway Bay, it was pretty tasty but you'd have to go there with someone who speaks Cantonese. I was none the wiser to what we were eating but it was all pretty tasty...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thai Thai?

I am so looking forward to an intensive one-day Thai cooking course at Martha Sherpa's cooking school. Watch this space for some recipes and tips once I emerge as a newly-minted Thai cookery goddess! Such delicacies as Pad Thai, Tom Yang Koong (that's hot and sour shrimp soup to the rest of us) and green chicken curry are all part of the package.

Welcome...and a bit about me

Welcome to my blog! I don't know what else to say really, I've been meaning to get around to this for ages.
I'm a British girl living in Hong Kong, and hating it so much that the only thing that can cheer me up is to sample the delights of Hong Kong's high-end restaurants. So far I have been to Felix (I seem to like this a lot more than other people do), Spoon (somewhat disappointing from a 9 Michelin starred chef), Hutong (more on this later - I have to go again), M at the Fringe (ditto!). This weekend it's lunch at Toscana...mmm can't wait.