Grilled fish simmer pot (Kao Yu) – a spicy Chinese recipe

Grilled fish served on a gas fire in a simmering tray of chillies and veg has been getting increasingly popular in Chinese restaurants, and unlike more traditional roast fish, it’s a lot saucier – in that it comes in a bubbling tray of soup. You can then spoon the soup over your bowl of rice as you eat the fish.

We’re making it with enoki mushrooms, celery and bamboo shoot here. In terms of choosing the fish, carp is ideal, sea bass is a good option, though we’re making it with yellow croaker here. Continue reading “Grilled fish simmer pot (Kao Yu) – a spicy Chinese recipe”

Pancake Day Recipe: Zeppole Sarde (Zippuas)

Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, is traditionally the day before the beginning of Lent. During this Catholic holiday lasting forty days, followers of Lent should avoid eating meat and other fatty or sweet foods, which is why Shrove Tuesday is the day they feast and treat themselves to a special meal. You might have guessed that we do not eat pancakes on this special occasion in Italy, as each region makes their own traditional cakes. In Sardinia we have zeppole, in dialect Zippuas, very tasty fritters that look like doughnuts and taste of saffron and orange. Continue reading “Pancake Day Recipe: Zeppole Sarde (Zippuas)”

Drunken Chicken (Shaoxing Zuiji) – a pressure cooker recipe

Want to cook with alcohol now that we’re no longer in dry January? This drunken chicken recipe is super easy and as it’s made in advance and served cold, you can make it to soak on a weekend and take it out of the fridge on Monday! Traditionally it’s made with Shaoxing rice wine, and that’s what we’re using here.

It’s usually made with chicken thighs or chicken wings, ideally with the bones removed but the skin on, as the skin keeps the meat together better and it will look prettier at the end. I don’t particularly like the skin in cold dishes, so I’m using boneless and skinless chicken thighs here. Continue reading “Drunken Chicken (Shaoxing Zuiji) – a pressure cooker recipe”

Sugarless apple, cinnamon and veggie muffins – perfect for babies

To kick start our new category of recipes (due to one of us having a baby who’s now eating solids), we thought we’d share this apple, cinnamon, carrot and courgette muffin. It uses a flour and banana base – the banana’s there to add some extra sweetness. All our baby recipes will be sugar and salt free, and as our baby has cow’s milk allergy, we’re using margarine (Pure, to be specific, as recommended by the GP). This recipe is inspired by the courgette muffin recipe from BBC Good Food.

Also, with our baby recipes, as all mamas are probably running low on time, we’ve gone for the method with the least amount of prep work. In this case, we’re doing as much as possible in the blender. You’ll still get a nice and fluffy texture following these steps!

These make a nice batch of 12 muffins. The prep takes around 5-10 minutes, and it cooks in 25 minutes.

Continue reading “Sugarless apple, cinnamon and veggie muffins – perfect for babies”

Carbonara delle isole_recipe

Carbonara delle isole

I made this Carbonara dish a while ago and I decided to call it Isle Carbonara because the two main ingredients I used come from the two big Italian islands. My Sicilian friend Martina brought me a Ricotta Salata, and in the fridge I had a piece of Mustela, a cured pork loin typical of Sardinia, which is used as an additional ingredient to basic soffritto for regional dishes. Continue reading “Carbonara delle isole”

Mapo tofu (mapo doufu) recipe – spicy tofu with minced pork

Mapo tofu is one of the most well-known dishes from the Sichuan cuisine, and as with most Chinese recipes, there are many variations to the recipe. It is also extremely easy to make, and the main ingredient is soft tofu (medium can also be used if necessary, but is not ideal, but stay away from silken and firm – here’s a guide to tofu types!)

This version uses more minced pork than usual, and doesn’t have as much sauce as some of the other versions. If you decide to use less pork, then you can reduce it to 100g without affecting the flavours. You can also add a tbsp of chicken stock powder to it instead.

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Chinese mixed vegetables (Su Shi Jin) with Clearspring Umami Paste

Chinese cooking can often be at odds with a vegetarian diet (of course, there are exceptions), and that’s partly because in Asia, umami, aka the fifth taste, is just as important as your sweet and your sour. This is what made MSG such a core ingredient. This is also the taste that Clearspring‘s organic Japanese umami paste offers to provide in a form that’s much healthier and still suitable for vegans. As a fan of Clearspring’s miso, I was keen to try out their umami paste when Clearspring offered samples.


The paste comes in two flavours, ginger and chilli, and in a tube form that’s easy to squeeze and easy to store. This recipe uses the ginger version, as it’s a traditionally non-spicy dish.

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Rose coloured pork with fermented tofu (Meigui Furu Rou) – a healthier recipe

Happy Bastille Day everyone! Sadly I didn’t have a blue bowl to serve this in, but this pork and fermented tofu recipe traditionally adds a dash of red to your table, and is best served with some white rice. It is also traditionally made with pork belly, as you need a fattier cut to make this tender, but this way of cooking it combines frying and steaming, and results in nice and juicy meat with pork cheeks – and is not as slow to cook as other recipes using pork cheeks.

The fermented tofu can also be replaced with soy sauce and normal tofu if you really can’t get hold of it, although of course the taste won’t be the same, but the pork cheeks will still be tender with the fry then steam method! This recipe works with the red version of fermented tofu, which is what gives the meat that lovely red colour at the end. It takes around 2 minutes to prep, followed by 5 minutes of active cooking time, then 45 minutes in the steamer. Continue reading “Rose coloured pork with fermented tofu (Meigui Furu Rou) – a healthier recipe”


Strawberries and cream cupcakes

It might be a good year or just the wonderful local Turkish shop where I buy my fruit, but this year I had the best strawberries in a while. From mid May till now, I always
have a box in the fridge ready to dig into! Then, when a special co-worker was leaving, she said she likes Victoria sponges, cheese cake and cupcakes. So I decided to bake her a batch of these wonderful cupcakes made with strawberries and ricotta. Strawberries and cream cupcakes are the perfect summer recipe I found in the book Eat Me! By Cookie Girl, a great source of inspiration when I feel like baking something special and getting creative with the decoration! This time I knew I had to decorate the cakes last minute in the office – which is why I did as little preparation as possible and decided to go for a messy look, like in the photos! This will make 12 cupcakes.

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Cola ribs the Chinese way – a simple recipe

Cooking with cola is not that unusual – Nigella, for example, offers a ham in Coca-Cola recipe. The popular drink has also made its way into Chinese home cooking, and instead of using the oven, the ribs are all cooked in a pan. Coca-Cola’s flavourings include vanilla and coriander, which are both enhanced in this recipe.

The prep time is around 5 minutes, but you do have to leave the meat marinading for some time, ideally overnight, so it’s a dish you can prepare in advance. We’ll need to let the ribs simmer on the hob for around 45 minutes as well.


1 rack of ribs
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
1 tbsp of Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
1 tbsp of corn flour
A pinch of ground vanilla (optional)
250ml of Coca-Cola
A handful of coriander

Continue reading “Cola ribs the Chinese way – a simple recipe”