Tag Archives: orange

Candied Caramelised Oranges

21 Dec

Are you stuck for a Christmas dessert that you can make without much thought, and which will taste as if you have put in hours of work? These candied, caramelised oranges might just be the thing. I love their jewel-like colour – a deep dark citrine or amber … glistening with orangey caramel syrup that they make themselves. Theyre blowsily sexy – soft, sticky, totally decadent and delectable. They taste like the holidays… and believe me, theyre so simple, its almost embarrassing!

I decided to make them because I am working on a Chinese New Year cake that uses candied and dried fruits. I love those little tiny oranges you can get this time of year ┬á– mini mandarins from China. You could also use kumquats. They are the main component of the recipe, so make sure you get good ones. Everything else you need, you probably have in your pantry. Its really up to you what flavourings and essences you use – most of the time, I just add sugar, water and a touch of juice.

How I can call this a recipe, Im not sure. Its so simple, but its gorgeous. Lush with the oranges’ own caramel, the little tiny orange balls go translucent, and then a deep dark hue that has a richness and beauty all its own. Serve warm (you can make ahead and reheat, or just stick it on the stove in the morning, and let it go) with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of heavy cream, and youre done. Heaven. Sweet, bitter, astringent, caramel, citrus, smoke – such a complexity of flavour, and so so easy. In the stress and mess of the holidays, sometimes that is a gift in and of itself.

To serve 4 – 6 people, you will need:

  • 2 cups light brown or caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup juice (or even wine)
  • Spices if you want – cinnamon is great here, as are cloves, star anise, nutmeg – but be gentle!
  • 4 cups of tiny mandarin oranges

Place a large pot, with lid, on stove top. Add sugar, water, juice and any spices. Bring gently to the boil, over low-medium heat, stirring every so often to dissolve the sugar. The sugar will boil up eventually, and then become clear. Turn the heat right down so the sugar syrup is just bubbling – little tiny plops.

Wash the little oranges well, ensuring that the little stem is removed, if needed. Poke each orange several times with a toothpick.

Place the oranges in the sugar syrup, gently gently. Give everything a stir, make sure the heat is very very low, and cover.

Simmer the oranges in the syrup for at least 1 – 2 hours, longer if you like. They will turn translucent and go very dark. Its almost like youre making marmalade, but with whole oranges.

Everything will caramelise, the oranges will leak their juice and essence, and the syrup will also turn a gorgeous burnt sticky orange.

Serve warm, with a bit of ice cream, mascarpone, or heavy cream. Heaven.

Mak Manja’s Steamed Orange Juice Healer

13 Dec

My Mak Manja has given me so much in this lifetime – her wisdom, her love, her strength, the sanctuary of her home, her intervention when I had no will… and so much laughter and joy. If I could wish anything for you, it would be for a Mak Manja of your own, who guides you, watches over you and loves you through it all. Of course, I cannot arrange for a Mak Manja for everyone (I believe that’s down to karma and fate!) but… I can share with you this.

The last time she visited, I was getting over the flu. My Mak Manja brought me a gift. A bag of oranges, and some rock sugar. She made herself at home in my kitchen, and she proceeded to prepare me this amazing, blissful, divine orange juice healing potion. Its very simple, and even though I am not sure which natural healing medicine it comes from (Ayurveda? Traditional Chinese Medicine? Natropathy? Or may be just her own instinctual knowledge…), I do know that this juice has extraordinary healing benefits. The orange is steamed, in a covered mug, in a pot. For hours and hours and hours. Well, a minimum of two hours, but really, as long as you can … the result is an elixir which intensifies and concentrates the huge vitamin compounds in the simple orange – vitamin C, folate, vitamin B1, and vitamin A, amongst others.

Drinking this juice is like getting a massive dose of pure, unadulterated love & vitamins – it feels like a supercharged vitamin shot. It goes through you, and suddenly you feel… warm, strong, steady. Full of energy. Nurtured and supported. Its wonderful as a tonic against the cold winter months. And for those with lowered immune systems, or who are recovering from an illness – it is perfect. The gentle application of heat and steam concentrates all the natural goodness in an orange, and give you a massive dose of feel good love. Making this juice for yourself once or twice a week will up your strength and stamina, and will boost your immune system and vital functions.

Its a wonderful gift, because its so easy to make. And it makes you feel so good.

So even though I cant give you your very own Mak Manja, I can give you her recipe. Make it for yourself when you are feeling in need of strengthening and comfort, or better yet, make it for someone you love.

Take one orange. Or two if theyre quite small.

Peel the orange, but leave a little bit of the white pith on. Not all of it, mind you, but may be about half.

Put the orange in a mug. Squish it down. With a knife, make a little hole at the top of the orange, and stuff a few pieces of rock sugar into the orange. If you dont have rock sugar, its OK. Use brown sugar – half a teaspoon or so. Squish the orange down if its small, and add another and repeat.

Cover the mug tightly. I used a little soy sauce dish because it fit exactly, but you could use some aluminum foil. Put the covered mug in a pot which has a lid.

Pour room temperature water into the pot, about half to three quarters of the way up the mug.

Cover the pot, and place over medium low heat on the stovetop. The water will take a while to come to the boil. When it does, turn the heat down to the lowest you can go, and let it simmer for a minimum of two hours, and up to four or five, or even more. Check and top up the water every hour or two. You could also make this in a slow cooker, or in the oven, but I prefer over the stovetop, because thats how I learned it ­čÖé

Once you have grown tired of waiting for the orange to steam (I usually get impatient by the three hour mark or so), then switch off the heat. Let the water (which should be bubbling) calm down a bit. Use kitchen gloves or a very thick kitchen towel, and lift the mug out of the water. Remove the cover of the mug. You will have very soft, tender oranges, in their own liquid.

Place a sieve over a bowl, and pour the entire contents of the mug into the sieve.

Use a spatula or spoon to mash the orange – it will be spectacularly soft and yielding. Try and mash as much juice out of the steamed orange as possible.

Pour the juice into a glass (it wont be boiling hot – but it will be quite warm), and sip slowly. Drink your fill of love, healing and strength.

Sayang Scones – Gluten Free Orange Vanilla Scones!

21 Nov

Scones!Today, I had tea with my most beloved of GoddessMothers. We talked, as usual, about love, family, hopes, dreams, secrets, spirit, happiness, joy … well, life in general. As we sat and chatted, laughed and cried, reconnected and restrengthened, we nibbled on these rather luscious orange vanilla scones. They were pretty damn good if I might say so myself (I am munching on one, as I type this, sandwiching some cheddar cheese and damson jam).

The thing is, my GoddessMother just found out she has a gluten intolerance. Basically, she cannot eat anything with wheat in it, or she becomes ill. My friend S also has the same issue, and so I am aware of the need to adapt and adjust recipes for gluten-intolerance. My GoddessMother was coming for tea, which immediately suggested scones… but gluten-free scones? I had this image of hard little rocks of wedgy dough tasting strangely of fake flour… Not an appetising look!

I went out and got some gluten-free flour (mainly maize and tapioca in my mix) – and you need to check ingredients. The flour needs to have some sort of xanthan gum or vegetable gum in it – this helps the softness and stretchiness of the dough. Without it, you should add about 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, which you can get at any good healthfood shop. Because the scent and texture of gluten-free flour is so different, I decided to really layer on the flavour ┬á– the grated rind of an orange for a bit of brightness, and a tablespoon of vanilla and honey each for some voluptuousness! You could scent it with just about any flavouring you like, but this combination made uniquely delectable sweet scones.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when making these scones. First and foremost, preheat the oven before you start mixing all the ingredients. From the time when you add the (cold) butter to the time the scones go into the oven, should be no more than 10 minutes or so. Work quickly and gently, and keep the integrity of the cold butter intact if you can. I added about 4 tsp of baking powder to the mix because I was going for slightly nubbly crumbly (but still tender and gentle) scones – if you want them fluffier, add 2 tsp more! And when you work with gluten-free flour, add a few tablespoons of milk powder. This adds to the lusciousness of the dough, but also adds to the depth of flavour of the scones.

Makes about 18 scones

  • 3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 3 tbsp milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • Grated peel of 1 (washed) orange
  • 12 tbsp cold butter
  • 4 – 6 tsp baking powder (the more baking powder, the fluffier)
  • Liquid of up to 10 fl oz (about 1 1/4 cup) which should include: 1 egg, a few tablespoons sour cream and/or yogurt, a few tablespoons of cream (if you like), 1 tbsp liquid honey, and the rest whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk + 1 egg for glaze

Preheat your oven to 215C (425F), and line a jelly roll tin or baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, milk powder, salt, and light brown sugar. Mix together gently with a fork. Using a superfine grater, grate the peel of a washed orange into the bowl, and mix together again.

Using a large hole grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture and stir lightly to combine and coat the butter with the flour mixture. You will have an oatmealy texture, and everything should smell brightly of orange.

Add baking powder, and mix again lightly.

In a large measuring jug, mix together the egg, a tablespoon each sour cream and yogurt, the honey, and make up to 10 fl oz (approximately 1 1/4 cup) with milk. Whisk this together with a fork to ensure everything is combined.

Add the vanilla (either as essence, paste or vanilla bean scraped) to the liquid mixture and whisk to combine again. Pour over the flour, and using your hands, quickly mix and knead the mixture into a soft pliable dough. Allow to rest, for about 3 minutes, in a cool place (even your fridge). This will allow the gluten-free flour to really come into its own, and makes it much easier to cut out the scones.

Flour (with gluten-free!) a working surface, and turn the dough out onto the surface. It should feel very tender and soft. If you think it needs more flour, add by a tablespoon at a time. Pat out into a 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle, and cut out scones, and place on prepared baking pan. Lightly glaze with milk, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn the pan. Before putting it back in, however, glaze again with egg. This will really encourage browning without burning. Bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the scones have risen, and baked through.

Cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to serving plate. Wonderful with cream and damson jam, with tomato marmalade and cheese, or buttered, hot from the oven. Delicious! Enjoy.

 

Butternut Couscous

23 Sep

With Walnuts + Goats Cheese + Red Wine SauceToday we started getting in gear for Queen Z’s 1st Birthday Party. Did most of the shopping and I prepared the butter cookies for baking tomorrow morning. So tonight, we wanted a good and simple meal that would nourish us and keep us going! I decided to cook the butternut that has been sitting on the table looking at me friendly like for the last couple of days. My friend, Floating Lemons, posted a recipe on my Facebook page that inspired me.

I decided to make roasted butternut and combine it with toasted spiced walnuts and some gorgeous blue goat’s cheese I found at the market. I wanted to serve it with spinach couscous, which I have made before. As the recipe was coming together, I decided that the butternut and couscous together would be a bit dry – so I made a red wine orange sauce on the fly! I combined the butternut with the walnuts and cheese, placed them on the green flecked couscous, and drizzled the wine sauce over. It was delicious! And a great example of how a recipe can expand as you make it.

This may seem a little complex, but to be honest, I made the whole thing in one small saucepan (with a tight fitting lid!), and a roasting dish. We all have too much on our plates for me to start cooking with a thousand pots, so the recipe will reflect the step by step process I went through. It feels and sounds quite complicated, but if you read the recipe a few times, you will see that its really easy peasy!

I started the butternut roasting and then got on with the rest – toasted the walnuts, chopped the cheese (which you can omit easily if you are vegan), made the sauce and the couscous. By the time the butternut was ready, the other ingredients were just waiting to be combined!

This meal will serve 4 hungry greedy people or 6 refined ones. You can easily cut it in half as well, or double it if needed. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut

  • 1 medium butternut, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 9 – 12 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the butternut, garlic and olive oil. The oil should lightly coat the butternut, not overwhelm it. Salt and pepper lightly and mix again with your hands to combine.

Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the butternut and garlic in a single layer on the pan, and roast for at least 30 minutes (it can go up to about 45) or until the butternut are soft, and slightly caramelised around the edges.

Once the butternut has roasted to your preference, take out of the oven and set aside to cool a little.

Toasted Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp (or more) paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few drops (literally) of olive oil

Chop the walnuts into small chunks, and put them into a non stick saucepan.

Place saucepan over medium heat, and start to toast the walnuts. You need to watch quite carefully so they dont burn, and stir often with a wooden spoon. If you are worried, lower the heat a bit. The oils in the walnuts will release and you will smell the wonderful, unmatchable scent of toasted nuts. Gorgeous.

Once the walnuts have just started to toast, sprinkle the paprika, red pepper and salt over the walnuts and stir to combine. Wait for the spicy scent to hit you and then drop a few drops of olive oil over all, and stir. The olive oil will help the spices adhere to the walnuts.

Toast for about a minute or so more – and taste to see if its to your liking. If so, take off the heat, and set the walnuts aside. I put them in a teacup!

Red Wine Orange Sauce

  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 1/4 cup orange juice – fresh squeezed is best but if you only have orange juice from a carton thats fine too – it will be a bit sweet, and you might have to adjust accordingly.
  • 1 tbsp butter (or Earth Balance margarine if you are vegan)
  • Salt to taste (I only used a tiny pinch)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream (or heavy cream – or if youre vegan, use coconut cream or soy creamer/milk – oat milk would be good here too) – optional

This is not tons of sauce, its just a lick to give moisture and flavour.

Clean out the saucepan, and combine the red wine and orange juice together. Over high heat, bring the mixture to the boil, and boil quite rapidly until reduced by at least a third, and up to half.

Whisk in the butter or margarine, and add salt to taste. You should have quite a thick winey sauce – almost a glaze – with a strong orange flavour. Orange goes beautifully with butternut, so this will only brighten its amazing taste.

Whisk in the sour cream, if using, until the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust salt. You could add some pepper as well, though I chose not to.

Pour into a teacup or mug (or small bowl, if youre fancy!) and set aside.

Spinach Couscous

  • 10 oz (about 280 g) box of couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup raw baby spinach, minced

Clean out your saucepan again, and  heat water, butter or olive oil and salt until the water comes to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, and take the saucepan off the heat. Cover with lid, and allow to sit for five minutes.

Mince the spinach very fine.

Remove the lid from the saucepan, and using a fork, fluff the couscous. Add the spinach all at once and mix thoroughly to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Assembly

  • Roasted Butternut and Garlic
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup blue goat’s cheese or chevre (optional)
  • Red Wine Orange Sauce
  • Spinach Couscous

The roasted butternut should have cooled a bit to room temperature.

In the roasting tin, combine the butternut, walnuts and cheese (if youre using). Mix well. Drizzle about half of your red wine sauce over and toss gently to combine.

Arrange the spinach couscous on a serving platter or in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, and place the butternut mixture into the well. Drizzle the rest of the red wine sauce over, and serve. Enjoy with loved ones.

PS – the leftovers are divine for lunch the next day, tossed together as a salad – or you could bring the whole thing on a picnic as a salad – its good cold too!

Review – Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio

28 Jun

My friend, goddessmoments, had posted a photo on her FB page which showed what looked like an amazing restaurant that has just opened in Solaris Dutamas, Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio. We decided that we wanted to try it out and made plans to go today. They are open from 9 – 6pm, breakfast being baked goods and from 3pm onwards, tea and cakes. There was not a huge lunchtime crowd there (yet) but once people get to know the quality and level of cooking thats available, you will probably have to end up making reservations! Its a small place – about 6 – 8 tables, with seating outside that is not prime at the moment because of the construction going on next door. There is also a huge open plan kitchen where Nathalie runs cooking classes (AngelKitten and I are going for a macaron class soon!) as well as an organised professional kitchen which you can see from the seating area.

When we arrived at 2pm, we were greeted and seated quickly. The menu is simple – 5 or so of each starters, main courses and desserts, as well as a small children’s menu. I love reading menus, and this one did not disappoint. You can see the mind of the chef working in the menu, and it was intriguing. The place settings are beautiful and simple, yet elegant and functional. It made us feel welcome, and everything we needed was accessible immediately.

Nana and AngelKitten ordered juice, which came in beautiful little individual carafes. AngelKitten had orange (which I think may have been blood orange) and it was superb – the essence of orange, tart, sweet, sour, perfection. Nana had pineapple, which was sweet and gorgeous. I love the care and thought that has gone into the presentation here. It makes you feel special.

They served us gorgeous, crusty baked rolls, with sweet butter sprinkled with sea salt. I think you can tell the quality of a chef’s kitchen by their attention to details like the bread – and this one was perfect.

I had a starter for my mains – the eggplant three ways. It was wonderful! First there was a little toast with savoury eggplant and raw tuna. Just an astonishingly lovely combination of flavour. Then there was an eggplant ice cream – savoury, cold, a hint of sweetness, silky on the tongue and wonderfully challenging for those of us who think of icecream as dessert. For me as a cook, it was a great exploration of seeing eggplant in a different way. And finally, there was a beautiful eggplant jelly, with an eggplant and cream espuma or foam. It was my favourite. The creamy dusky flavour was essence of eggplant, and made me think of making an eggplant soup that would have those flavours in it. Not only was this a mouthwatering dish, but it was visually stunning.

Nana’s main course was the duck confit. He said it was delicious. Beautifully cooked duck, orange, and caramelised onions. He loved the balance of flavours, and the satisfaction of a hearty meal that was presented absolutely beautifully.

AngelKitten was looking for a simple main course so she could concentrate on dessert. She ordered from the children’s menu (since she is 12 plus 8!) and had the bolognaise tagliatelle. It was a very large portion for a child’s size! But she said it was really good – tomato-y but not too much so, meaty and flavourful without being too complex. Exactly what a child’s palate wants. She really wanted to try the chicken nuggets reimagined, but they did not have them, so we will have to go back again!

And finally there was another starter, salmon blini with lemon grass cream and a salad. Beautiful, simple, light – the lemongrass cream was sparkling – such a taste sensation with the silky unctuous salmon! Stunning presentation too.

And then… came dessert! AngelKitten and I had done what we always do – check out the dessert menu first, and then thought about the main course! She had an utterly superb orange creme brulee with caramel sauce, and a blood orange sorbet. Such lovely contrasts – the icey cool sharpness of the sorbet – light and airy – sweet yet tangy – and the creamy sweet meltingness of the creme brulee. The whole plate was so well thought out. Everything complemented and contrasted in interesting ways. A delightful crunchy tuile sat atop the sorbet, sharp and crackly and sweet, light and icy and tangy.┬áThe creme brulee sat on a vanilla cookie crust – the texture of the crust the perfect balance to the richness and wobbly delights of the creme. So very very very good, and so satisfying.

I had the trio of desserts – a consideration of how different chocolate can be! First there was a rhubarb and tarragon crumble with a white chocolate espuma. The rhubarb crumble was tart and soursweet, the crumble with hints of cinnamon. The chocolate here only highlighted the different taste sensations of the fruit, and was definitely a supporting character. Then there was a ┬ámacaron – I chose the caramel, though I should have probably chosen the chocolate for unity of plate! I didnt regret it though – the caramel macaron was astonishing – a delight, a whisper of macaron, and a bold flavourful bittersweetsalty caramel licked in the centre. I could bathe in that caramel and be happy. And finally, a tiny, delicate chocolate tart, with a fragile vanilla crust. But it had a huge chocolate flavour – intense dark smoky notes. Wonderful.

All in all a brilliant meal. As a cook, it inspired me to think of different balances and ways to present food. As an eater, it appealed to the sensualist in me.

Was there anywhere we could find fault in this lovely new restaurant? Well, yes actually. The only uncomfortable note of the entire meal was the seating – outside seats were very low, and we could not sit there because of the noise and pollution from the construction. Inside was beautiful, but they had inexplicably chosen high, sharp bar seats and high tables. Very uncomfortable and difficult to get in and out of. The seats were the only thing in the restaurant that did not encourage you to stay a while and enjoy. Honestly, after an hour or so of sitting, they were painful.

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio changes its menu every month, so we will definitely be back next month to try more mouthwatering delicacies. It is exciting and very happy making to see such a high level gourmet space opening up in KL. Its wonderful to be able to explore the food mind of a serious chef through her menu. Thank you Nathalie for creating such a sumptuous gourmet experience!

PS – Try the macarons! We brought back a large box – couldnt resist!

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio – Unit 4-1-5 – Solaris Dutamas – Jalan Dutamas – 50480 Kuala Lumpur – Tel : 03.62 07.95 72

http://www.nathaliegourmetstudio.com