Recipes, cooking tips, ingredients…
all about food
Find out how to make this super simple, super quick, super tasty dish. It combines the sharpness of tamarind, the sweetness of palm sugar, and the umami saltiness of fish sauce—with just a little chilli heat.
Hainanese chicken rice
To celebrate the new Chinese year of the Ox, and to mourn the demise after 80 years of the Singaporean restaurant where Hainanese chicken rice was first launched on the world, I present two versions of my interpretation of this classic South-East Asian Chinese dish.
Dal makhani and aloo gobi
While waiting to move house I’ve been spending time cooking and eating through the contents of my five freezers and five fridges—which are now down to two and three respectively—and trying out new recipes. Here’s a couple of my versions of two Indian classics, dal makhani and aloo gobi.
Acar: Indonesian pickle
Recipes for two versions of acar (pronounced ‘achar’). Acar is sort of versatile, Indonesian version of Branston pickle. Acar simply means ‘pickle’. Like Branston it’s made from chopped vegetables, including carrots and onions, pickled in vinegar sweetened with sugar, and zhooshed up with spices. The difference is that it is served as a side dish, and is eaten with just about any main dish you could imagine, including barbecued meat, satay, and grilled fish.
Aubergine has to be up there among my absolute favourite vegetables. And probably the most versatile. Here are two easy, delicious, aubergine recipes. One is a Chinese vegetable dish; the other a starter or snack from Georgia—as in the country on the Black Sea, not the US state. My first time making a Georgian recipe.
The quickest, easiest pasta dish of all. And one of the most delicious. The only cooking is to boil the water for the pasta. As soon as it starts to feel like winter is over, the sun is getting warmer, the evenings becoming longer—that’s when I think about making pasta primavera again.
The dish is all about the fresh flavours of the raw ingredients: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese, garlic, olive oil (extra virgin of course), with a hit of salty umami from the black olives.
The story of rice. And how to cook it the Indonesian way
Rice is one of the defining elements of Indonesian cuisine—and of course most Asian cuisines. If you’d like to know a bit more about it, please do read the background section after the cooking tips.
I cook a lot of rice! Because of my catering business I calculate I’ve cooked over a tonne just in the last ten years. You probably have your own method. This is mine. It certainly seems to be reliable. It needs to be!
Quick and easy: fried rice
This is probably the best known Indonesian dish of all. Nasi goreng, like some of Italy’s tastiest dishes, was originally a way of using up cooked rice. Food is not wasted in Indonesia—particularly semi-sacred rice. Traditionally it would be served for breakfast, using what was left over from the previous day’s dinner. It is a dish that perfectly symbolises these times of scarcity and belt-tightening. As befits a dish designed to use up leftovers for breakfast, it is dead easy to make. Essentially, fry chopped ingredients in a pan, add the rice, stir, and serve. Ingredient quantities are not critical.
Simple recipe for grim times
I’m not going to use the C word, but you all know what I mean when I say “grim times”. The last thing anyone wants to think about right now is elaborate dinners. But we all have to eat, and I thought my friends and followers might appreciate some ideas for what to cook while we’re limited to shopping at the nearest supermarket (and hoping that their shelves aren’t empty!)
Here’s the first of some recipes that don’t require difficult-to-find ingredients, and which might add some interesting variety to the usual repertoire. This one is from Manado, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia’s fourth biggest island. It doesn’t have to be blow-your-head off hot, but it does offer a bit of a flavour explosion!
Chayote: another healthy food
I keep coming across a vegetable called chayote in Latin American recipes. It’s also used in Cajun cuisine (they call it mirliton), and by a huge variety of different names throughout south and east Asia. In Malaysia it’s called, weirdly, ‘English gourd’; in Indonesia...
Tempeh. The super-food.
I'm planning a demonstration of some super simple but tasty ideas for cooking with tempeh. Watch this space! Seems like you can’t open a lifestyle magazine at the moment without finding an article about gut microbes. You know the sort of thing: we have ten times more...
A family wedding!
Just got back from a wonderful month in Jakarta. That's me with the handbag in the picture above, three to the right of the bride—my niece. I just had to be there! Haven't been to a Javanese wedding in years. Of course I managed to find time to do some serious eating...
Two recipes for the price of one: sambal terasi & sambal terong
Sambal is one of the foundation stones of Indonesian cuisine. It is often referred to in translation as chilli relish—but it is so much more than just a condiment, such as mustard or tomato ketchup. It might be served as a side dish, to...
Terasi: the secret ingredient
Months—well actually years!—ago I wrote a blog introducing one of the key ingredients of Indonesian cookery: the chilli. I said that I was planning a series on sambal, the range of sauces, relishes, and dishes that chillies are made into. My apologies for the...
Chilli sambal! A new project.
It’s been a couple of years since I started this blog, and I have to admit I’ve been less than diligent in keeping it up to date. I’ve decided that I need a project to encourage me to publish more regularly. After a certain amount of cajoling from Kevan, my husband,...
A foody visit to Indonesia
I planned months ago to escape England for a few weeks in horrid January to travel back to Indonesia. Firstly, to visit my family, secondly, to learn more about my mum's cooking and lastly, to travel a little bit with my old friends from school who are all very much...
September – noodle cooking demonstration
I finally held the first noodle cooking demonstration at home in September after a lot of requests by friends. I'd like to say and admit that it was a big success....they all went home happy and enjoyed the noodle feast I'd prepared earlier. To start with, I...
Sweet Sorrel Tart – HFW’s
I saw this recipe in the Guardian on Friday, the 4th May. It caught my eye and I liked the sound of using sorrel in puddings. We also have an abundance of sorrel in our garden which grows happily and I have not used it all that much. I think it's because the plant...
Twice cooked mix peppers with salmon
It's been a while since my last post...but here is one recipe that got me going again and wanting to share with you all. I had the inspiration as I had a glut of peppers left over from a catering job I did at the week-end and salmon fillets bought for our supper. It...
Spring, family gatherings, and Ottolenghi
Spring has arrived early this year. The lovely weather was enjoyed first when we went to the south of France to get things ready for the season in our little house. I was hoping to get some food ideas, eating out while we were there but, unfortunately, we went too...
Gravad lax – it’s really easy!
A few weeks ago I went to the closest fishmonger in my town and bought a big chunk of fresh tuna, which at that point, I had no idea what to do with. Beside the tuna, I also bought the freshest looking samphire/glasswort, as I love this sea vegetable cooked the...
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