Sunday, 7 November 2010

chestnut tart

this is a great chestnut tart recipe that i devised this autumn and shared with some friends. it was soooo popular, they told me to share the recipe. so here it is! 

all started from chesnuts that shanti's mother picked from nearby their home.... 


- 75g butter
- 60g sugar
- 1/2 (half) egg
- 150g plain flour
- vanilla extract

almond cream
- 100g almond powder
- 100g buttar
- 100g sugar
- 2 small eggs

chestnut cream
- 300g peeled chestnuts (about 400g with shell)
- 150ml cream
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g sugar

cream for topping
- 100ml cream
- 30g sugar


pastry (allow three hours)

1. mix butter until creamy and fluffy
2. add & mix egg bit by bit
3. add & mix vanilla extract
4. add plain flour and mix until one bunch of patsry
5. if its too watery then add flour (not too much though, otherwise the crust will become really hard!!)
6. place in a plastic film and refrigerate for at least two hours (work on almond cream and chestnut cream during this time)

7. take out from fridge and roll out on floury surface
8. roll out to about 3mm/4mm thickness

9. place the rolled out pastry onto a pie mould
10. don't worry if the pastry breaks! patch it up! it's absolutely fine.
11. fork the surface of the pastry to allow air between the mould and the pastry
12. keep it in the fridge for another hour (this will prevent the pastry from shrinking) - this would be a great time to preheat the oven (180C)

so… while you wait for the pastry to settle, at stage no. 6 above, let's prepare the almond cream, which will become the base of the tart and also the chestnut cream.. yummy!

almond cream

1. mix butter and sugar well
2. add eggs bit by bit and mix well
3. add almond powder
4. leave this mixture until ready to pour into the pastry mould

chestnut cream

1. boil chestnuts for about 30 minutes
2. drain and peel chestnuts
3. place chestnuts in a plastic bag (ziplock would work too) and mash them inside the bag
4. mix butter and sugar until fluffy in a bowl
5. place the mashed chestnuts into the bowl and mix
6. add cream and adjust each ingredient as you wish (go ahead and experiment!)


13. take out the pastry mould and pour the almond cream (instructions above). keep the surface as level as possible.
14. bake the tart with the almond cream for 30-40mins. (if the surface becomes golden and the inside is not cooked, then you can cover the surface with a sheet of aluminum foil)
15. when cooked, let it cool down (I sometimes cheat and put the whole thing in the freezer - not the best way but sometimes we can't wait right?)


soooo, once the tart is baked and cooled down, we can make more progress.
ready to combine everything and let chemical reaction take its course!!

16. place the chestnut cream on top of the tart surface, try and level the surface so it is roughly even
17. beat 100ml of cream in a bowl - relatively thick
18. spread thew whipped cream on top of the chestnut cream.


aaaaand your chestnut tart is ready to be enjoy by your friends and family.
great autumn recipe. have a lovely tea time!


pesto sauce for pasta

i know many people buy pesto sauce ...
we think we should make our own!
you never want to buy a pesto sauce once you've tried this!

ingredients (serves 3-4)

- a big bunch of fresh basil (no dried basil please!)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 30-50g of cup parmesan cheese
- 30g of pine nuts
- 5 tbspns of olive oil
- salt


1. roast the pine nuts until they are golden brown
2. cut the garlic, cheese into smaller bits
3. mix all ingredients into a food processor (or even a juice blender!)
4. done! easy right?
5. well you do need to boil your pasta and mix the sauce with it (no need to cook the sauce at all)

you can preserve this sauce in a jar too (make sure to disinfect the container). no more pesto sauce purchases from the supermarket. you will know what i mean when you have this handmade pesto!!



salad dressing

never buy a salad dressing ever again!

ingredients (a salad for 2 - 3)

1/3 medium onion (or 2 shallots)
3 tbps olive oil
1 tbps squeezed lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
grounded pepper


1. grate onion (or shallots)
2. mix onion, olive oil, lemon juice
3. add salt and pepper

this salad dressing goes well with a general mixture of green leaves (lettuce, spinach etc).
especially great with grilled bacon bits!


Chinese fried dumplings ♬ 焼き餃子(手作りの皮)

This is maybe my favourite dish in the whole world! I know Marcia loves it too :)
There are many recipe versions for chinese dumplings, but this one is my mother Setsuko's original recipe.
She was experimenting with all different combinations of ingredients and this is the golden combination!

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
- plain flour 100g
- strong flour 200g
- salt 1 tea spoon
- pepper 1/3 tea spoon
- minced pork 200g
- chinese cabbage (or plain cabbage) 400g
- spring onion 1stick
- grated ginger 1 tea spoon
- sugar 1/2 tea spoon
- white wine (or if you have 紹興酒 - Shaoxing chinese wine) 1 table spoon
- soy sauce 1 tea spoon
- oil 2 1/2 table spoon

- finely chopped garlic 1 clove (or more if you like)
- chopped fresh chilli 1 piece
- paprika power 1/2 tea spoon
- soy sauce 2 table spoons
- vinegar 2 table spoons
- sesame oil (1 table spoon)


1. Create the dumpling dough from plain and strong flour with 150ml of cold or warm water. Add 1/3 tea spoon of salt and one tea spoon of oil. Mix all the ingredients until you get a smooth dough.
2. While you are mixing, hit the dough from around 50cm height to hit the cutting board - in order to get all the air out. Cover the dough with a wet towel and leave it for about an hour.
3. Mix the minced meat, finely chopped spring onion, pepper, grated ginger, sugar, white wine (or chinese wine), soy sauce and a little oil. Then add finely chopped (chinese) cabbage which was previously left with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and drained all the excess water from it.
4. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and create a long oval from it, 2-3cm thick. Cut the oval into pieces 2cm long and on the floured surface spread the dough into circles about 7-8cm.
5. Place the meat mixture (1.5 teaspoon) in the middle of the circle and create this shape:

6. Fry the dumplings in the saucepan with some oil, add 1 teaspoon of water at the beginning), and fry until it turns a beautiful golden colour.
7. Serve with some special sauce!

You can also boil the dumplings, or steam them if you have a steamer!! :)
If you go to China Town, or Japan Centre, you can buy dumpling wrappers - but homemade is the best!



head-over-heels ♥ chicken

This recipe is one of my favourites.
Ana Reljin, my childhood friend and I created it while we were living together in Belgrade.
The yogurt makes the chicken soft like a cloud, and it makes you feel so happy :)

I illustrated the recipe for They Draw and Cook, and it will be published in a book in spring 2011! Yay!


- chicken thighs (or breasts) cut into little pieces
- yogurt
- olive oil
- garlic
- ginger
- soy sauce
- garam masala
- salt and pepper

- olive oil
- lemon juice
- soy sauce
- finely chopped spring onion
- finely chopped garlic
- finely chopped parsley and coriander (lots of it!!)
- salt + pepper
- a little bit of cayenne pepper (if you like it hot)
- little honey (half of teaspoon)


1. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and all other ingredients.
2. Use your hands to massage in all the spices and yoghurt to make the chicken soft.
3. Leave the chicken like that at least for 10-20 minutes (if you are leaving it for a few hours, cover it with cling film and place it in the fridge)
4. Heat the sauce pan and some olive oil and add the chicken, stir fry it until it turns a bit gold.
5. Place it on a plate with some dressing. You can also add some rocket salad or ruccola!!

It is called the head-over-heels chicken because once you make this dish, you fall in love with it, and how soft the chicken becomes :)



blue cheese pear tart

up for a new experimental taste?
the fourme d'ambert (blue cheese) pear tart is a great start!

believe me, it's a super tasty dish. suitable for parties - 
great recipe to impress your friends!

ingredients (serves 4-7)

- pastry sufficient for one tart (buy rolls or make it yourself - recipe to follow!)
- 2 pears
- 200g of fourme d'ambert cheese


1. preheat oven to 180C
2. peel and cut the pears into 1cm thick strips - any shape will do!
3. cut the forum d'ambert cheese into small blocks (1cm cubes)
4. place the pastry into a pie mould, and poke the surface with a fork. release your stress here!
5. place the pears and cheese into the mould - random or placed strategically, whatever you fancy!
6. bake for 30 minutes or so - until surface is golden brown and the cheese has been absorbed by the pears

goes really well with red wine and also white!
enjoy the sweet and savory taste!!


pumpkin soup (butternut squash soup)

Another winter recipe from Irena :)

If you are in Europe - use a butternut squash!
It is much sweeter than the pumpkin.

If you are in Japan or Asia, use this kind of pumpkin. It is not too watery and it's very sweet :D

ingredients: (serves four)

- 1 pumpkin (or butternut squash)
- 1 medium onion
- a few cloves of garlic (as much as you like!)
- 1 carrot
- a little bit of ginger
- butter
- water
- milk (or soy milk)
- salt, pepper
- cinnamon
- soup stock cube
- olive oil
- cream (if you like)
- coriander or parsley


1.  Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Remove seeds and peel the pumpkin and cut it into small squares
3. Place the pumpkin in the dish, put a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle a little salt, and cook for about 30-40 minutes.
4. When the pumpkin is ready, cook chopped onion, garlic and ginger with some butter in a pot.
5. Add some pumpkin and water, carrots, a little cinnamon and soup stock.
6. When carrots get soft, remove the pot from heat, and mix everything in a blender, until it gets smooth (no need to pass the soup through a sieve! :)
7. Return the soup to the pot, add some milk (or soy milk) and heat it up a little more. Taste and add some salt and pepper if needed.
8. When serving, decorate with a little cream and chopped fresh coriander or parsley.

If you add less water, it becomes like a paste - and you can put it on bread :)
Adding more water or milk makes it look more like a soup.

Please do not skip the step of using the OVEN!!
It makes the pumpkin / butternut squash many times yummier and sweeter!

Enjoy!! :D


shepherd's pie

this is our first recipe on our blog!
i learned how to make this shepherd's pie when i lived in london.
my favorite winter food. so easy to cook as well.

ingredients (serves four)

- 5 potatoes (medium)200-250g of minced beef
- 1 carrot (medium)
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 cups of beef stock
- a bit of cinnamon and thyme


1. preheat oven at 200C

2. peel potatos, cut in good size, boil them until soft
3. drain water and mash the potatos with a bit of butter

4. cook one medium onion in a large frying pan, cook until brown
5. add minced beef
6. when cooked, add a small tin of peas and diced carrots
7. cook until carrots are soft-ish
8. add 2 tbsp of flour
9. straight away, add tomato paste and beef stock
10. the sauce should get a little thick
11. add a bit of cinnamon and thyme for added flavour

read to combine now!
12. in a gratin plate, add the meat mixture
13. put the mashed potatos on top - dont worry if its not "even",
a rough touch makes it rustic-looking!
14. cook in preheated oven (200c) for 15-20mins until surface is golden brown

enjoy this lovely winter recipe with a glass of red wine!
you can also accompany the meal with a fresh salad.
hmm yummy yum yum! enjoy!

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