Carrot Cake Recipe

It’s been long time since my last blog. Before I gave birth I was able to update this blog every 5-7 days but since then I have been busy watching my daughter grow up. I have also been really busy with my college course, I had some health issues which put me out of action for a little while and I’ve also been busy setting up my illustration business.

But one thing I really miss is updating this blog with new recipes and communicating with many of the wonderful people who leave comments here.

So this is a new recipe I want to share with you. It’s not Chinese/Taiwanese food, it’s a carrot cake.

The first time I ever tried carrot cake was after I moved to the UK. We don’t have carrot cake in Taiwan and I have to admit the first time I heard about carrot cake I wondered if a vegetable cake could be tasty. But in fact, carrot cake is tasty! Delicious even! It’s now one of my favourite cakes and can also be quite a healthy cake if you don’t put too much icing on the top.

I learned to make this while working as a pastry chef at the Sheraton Hotel. I worked at the Sheraton for about 18 months and for a few months within that time I worked as a pastry chef. I’ve eaten many different carrot cakes but this is still my favourite recipe by far. The cake itself is very soft, moist and flavoured (at least for myself and Chris) perfectly.

I also illustrated this recipe for my illustration blog and “they draw and cook” website. “They draw and cook” website is for people or illustrator who like to draw and cook (just like me) to share the two joy in their life. It’s a great website to check out.

One thing to note, as a savoury chef and ourselves being experienced photographing savoury food, sweet foods are really hard to photograph. I’m reasonably happy with this photo but definitely want to do a lot more bakery and as and when time allows photograph it.

Hope you like the recipe below.

carrot cake recipe

 

Carrot Cake Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 g sugar
  • 175 ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 325 g grated carrot

Lemon Icing Ingredients

  • 225 g softened butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 150c. Prepare a muffin tin and cup cake cases.
  2. Mix the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl or electric mixer until totally combined.
  3. Sift flour, bicarbonate soda, baking powder and mixed spice in a bowl. Then gently mix into step 2.
  4. Fill the cup cake cases until they are 80% full and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Sift icing sugar first before you mix with butter and lemon juice in a electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.
  6. After the cake has cooled down pipe the icing on top of the cake.

 

Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken

Hello everyone, I’m back!

It has been a very long time since my last blog post. I’ve finally completed my Lauriston Castle 2013 workshop brochure for Edinburgh council. That project went very well and I’ve learnt a lot and gained a lot of interesting and valuable experience working as an illustrator. Here is the link for the images I created for this brochure. Please have a look if you have interest.

My life has been very busy with Amelia, work, college and building up my freelance illustrator business. A lot of the time I really wish I have 36 hours in a day instead of 24 hours. Because of deadlines for various projects as well as work and family commitments I haven’t even been able to celebrate Chinese New Year this year. But even though I didn’t celebrate Chinese New Year in the traditional way I still managed to cook a couple really simple recipes, one of which I’ll share with you now.

Do you remember my Chinese new year dishes last year? I explained that Chinese people like  foods that have a lucky meaning behind them, especially when celebrating Chinese New Year.

Today’s dish is Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken. In Chinese language, chestnut is pronounced  “li-zi” (栗子) and “Li” sounds like the other Chinese word, which means “profit” also could mean “mean”. So people will feel really happy when they have this dish in Chinese new year dinner.

Here is the recipe for Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken and I hope you will be very happy, very healthy in this coming year.

braised chinese chestnut chicken

 

 

Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs de-bone and cut into big dice
  • 1 pack chestnut I like Merchant Gourmand whole peeled chestnuts
  • 2 pieces ginger
  • 3 spring onion
  • 3 cloves garlic

Seasonings

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rice wine
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Heat up 1 table spoon oil in the wok and stir fry ginger, spring onion and garlic. Add sugar in the wok when you can smell the fragrant.
  2. Add chicken after the sugar is melted. Stir fry it until chicken’s colour turn into golden brown.
  3. Add all the seasonings and boil it. Add chestnut once the sauce is boiled.
  4. Reduce down the sauce until it’s nearly dry and it’s ready to serve.

 

Ma Po Tofu Sichuan Recipe

It feels like months since I last updated my blog and prior to giving birth I used to update my blog every week or so, but recently I’ve spent a lot of time working towards my new illustrator business, setting up a website for it and most importantly working on my portfolio. While I have still been cooking in recent times, with both Chris and my workloads we don’t really have time to sit down and eat elaborate meals so we’ve been eating fairly simply.

One thing I have felt though is a bit lost for not having time to cook. I’m due to go back to working in the same restaurant I worked in before part-time and I do actually miss the feeling of cooking properly. I also spent roughly two years working on this website so it’s upset me a litle not being able to update it.

Just recently as well, Chris has been incredibly busy with his photography business so he hasn’t had the time to photograph any dishes for me and we’ve both been really sick with baby flu which Amelia picked up at nursery. Seriously, if you haven’t had a baby, be warned(!), baby flu is literally 10 times worse than adult flu.

So to get back into the run of my blog, I had a re go at cooking and photographing one of my original recipes from this website, Ma Po Tofu. Here is the orignal blog with the story behind this dish and the recipe. I hope you will like it. 🙂

麻婆豆腐) Ma Po Tofu is a well known dish from Sichuan. The creator is a lady who has pockmark on her face and pockmark is Ma in Chinese and Po is a respectful form for a old lady. Ma Po had this small restaurant in Chengdu city and the most of her customers were porters. They usually bought some tofu and mince to ask Ma Po to cook them something to eat. After a long time, this tofu dish got more and more popular and famous, so people named this dish after Ma Po’s name. That’s how we called this dish Ma Po tofu.

I also know of a British chef called Fuchsia Dunlop who is a so called expert on Chinese food after she learnt some Chinese and spent some time at a cookery school in China. The way she pronounces this dish in Chinese translates to “Pock-Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd” but if you ever go to a Chinese restaurant in Sichuan or Sichuan restaurant in Taiwan and China . ” Ma Po Tofu “ is the proper way to call this dish.

I went to the original site of Ma Po’s restaurant in Chengdu when I was 14 year-old. But this restaurant was burned down in 2005. Many people felt really sad about this as Ma Po’s restaurant plays an important part in the history of Sichuan cuisine. So, the Sichuan government rebuilt it again at another address in Chengdu city.

Here is one of the cooking methods for Ma Po tofu which was taught to me by my grandpa. My grandpa originated from Sichuan and was a really excellent cook and some of my happiest memories are of the time I spent with him in the kitchen learning to cook many different delicious dishes.

ma po tofu sichuan recipe

 

 

Ma Po Tofu Sichuan Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 600 g tofu
  • 230 g pork mince or beef mince but I used pork
  • 2 spring onions chop really fine
  • 2 cloves garlic chop really fine

Seasonings

  • 1.5 tbsp chili bean sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tsp Sichuan pepper powder

Instructions

  1. Remove the hard edge of Tofu and cut it into 1.5 cm cubes. Place it into a plate with kitchen napkin to suck the water from tofu.
  2. Heat your wok with two tablespoons of oil and sauté pork mince. Add spring onion, garlic and chilli bean paste in. stir it constantly for another 20 seconds. Season it with soy sauce, salt, sugar and add tofu cubes into it, gently mix everything together but do not damage the shape of the tofu.
  3. Pour a cup of stock to reduce it down. This way can make tofu suck all flavour from sauce and stock.
  4. After reducing the stock, place it into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle a little bit of chopped spring onion on top to garnish it.

ma po tofu sichuan recipe

Beef Ragu Recipe

I know I haven’t updated my blog for a while. After finishing college for the summer break I really wanted to finish off my first fully illustrated alphabet and what I thought would be quite a quick project turned out not to be. In total I had to do 26 individual illustrations and that combined with looking after Amelia has really taken up all of my time. Amelia is an absolutely amazing daughter but just like all babies she’s really demanding. She constantly wants attention and while she can now entertain herself by playing with toys (she loves her rabbit rattle) she still wants face to face playtime the most.

So with completing this alphabet and looking after Amelia I’ve had absolutely no time to update this blog (this will hopefully change soon). Now I’ve finished my alphabet I’m really happy with it. This follows on from a “Rocket Man” project I started a few months ago and I’d only recommend you give a project like this a go if you have a lot of time to spare.

But back to food, I’m going to share my Beef Ragu recipe. I first tried ragu around the beginning of this year when I visited Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Glasgow “Jamie’s Italian”. We read some reviews of Jamie’s Italian before deciding to go there and it’s now my favourite restaurant. The restaurant isn’t too fancy or fine dining, the staff are really attentive but the restaurant has a really nice ambience to it. Most important though is the food is really delicious. The first time I visited I had a venison ragu and it was utterly delicious. I must also mention the restaurant is really baby friendly and of course with Amelia we can only go to restaurants that have baby changing rooms, easy access etc.

Amelia also absolutely loves Jamie’s Italian (actually she loves all restaurants). There are so many things for her to look at, hear and smell. Think of it as a “baby senses paradise”.

I would have quite liked to have made a venison ragu but here in Edinburgh venison is really difficult to get hold of so I used beef shin instead. Beef shin is one of my favourite parts of beef as it can be really delicious but it needs to cook for a while to really tenderise it. Cooked properly it’s really delicious (I use beef shin now for beef noodle soup) and it’s also a lot cheaper than regular cuts of beef like sirloin or rib eye.

beef ragu recipe

 

Beef Ragu Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3 medium carrots chop finely
  • 3 stalks celery chop finely
  • 1 large onion chop finely
  • 4 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 100 g bacon lardons
  • 1.5 kg beef shin dice it
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chop
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chop
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pack beef stock or water to cove the ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot with the strongest heat and add bacon first until the bacon oil starts to run. Then add carrots, garlic, celery, onion and tomato paste. Cook until all the vegetables start to caramelise. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add beef and keep cook until beef is cooked on the outside. Add wine, stock, tinned tomato, rosemary and thyme and bring it to boil. Once the ingredients have started to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours. Stir occasionally while simmering and after 2 hours it’s ready.

Recipe Notes

Note: Ragu is best eaten with a really nice pasta or bread. We usually buy our pasta from Valvona & Crolla which is an Italian delicatessen here in Edinburgh but the point is use a good quality pasta and for bread something like a focaccia is amazing with ragu.

Below is the Space Alphabet I talked about above. Make sure you click on the image for a much larger version.

 

Below is the Space Alphabet I talked about above. Make sure you click on the image for a much larger version.

space alphabet illustration

Stuffed Lotus Root with Sweet Sticky Rice

Recently I’ve been going through a really busy period. I just had my final year exhibition and graded unit which along with looking after Amelia really has taken up all of my time. Chris has also had a lot of photography work to complete so I’ve been doing the extra rounds with childcare while he got his work done.

But finally, I now have some free time for myself. I’ve been thinking about posting a recipe for this Chinese dessert called “stuffed lotus root with sweet sticky rice” for a long time but because of my college course and works I’ve decided I want to try to illustrator the procedures for most recipes from now on. Of course if the dish is really simple I probably won’t illustrate it but this dish does need some guidance.

It’s really good fun but also a pain doing these illustrated procedures. It requires a lot of time to finish one recipe but it’s really good practice, really therapeutic and I hope I can eventually produce an illustrated cook book. If you remember I started designing a cook book a couple years ago and while it looks really professional, I want something a lot more fun so over a period of time I’ll re-illustrate a number of recipes while adding new recipes.

When I worked as a chef, drawing was always really important for remembering recipes. Every restaurant has completely different recipes and some recipes can be quite complicated, so I use a small notebook to illustrate the final dish and I would write the ingredients and procedure in the book. Sometimes I would have to remember 20 or more dishes in one day so the quicker you learn then better. So that’s how and I why I started drawing these recipes. I think this is also one of the reasons I got a place on my college course as the teacher seemed to be really impressed about my recipe book.

So here is my another illustrated recipe for this Chinese dessert “Stuffed lotus root with sweet sticky rice”. I hope you will enjoy it.

Also a few weeks ago, Chris, Amelia and I discovered a very cool castle in West Scotland called “Kelburn Castle”. It was built in the late 16th century but what makes this castle so special? What makes it different to all of the other castles in Scotland? Well, the castle walls needed some repairs back in 2007 and rather than just re-plaster the walls and apply a plain paint, the owner of the castle hired a group of Brazilian graffiti artists to paint the West wall of the Castle.

If you come to Scotland and have a fascination with castles, you should definitely check Kelburn Castle out. The painting on the castle looks amazing but just as importantly the grounds of the castle are fantastic for both adults and children. There’s a secret forest and many playgrounds for children, there are cafe’s and shops for adults, you can go horse riding but also the staff are extremely friendly.

I’ve put some photos of Kelburn Castle on this post, hope you like them.

stuffed lotus root with sweet sticky rice

 

Stuffed Lotus Root with Sweet Sticky Rice

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sticky rice
  • 2 lotus roots they should be 12-15cm long ideally
  • 5 dried jujubes
  • 50 g rock sugar
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Soak the sticky rice in a bowl of water for 2 hours.
  2. Cut the lotus root as per the steps in this procedure picture. Make sure you keep the top of the lotus root as you will use this as a lid.
  3. Stuff the sticky rice from step 1 into the lotus root and use chopsticks to push the rice into the lotus root, effectively stuffing it.
  4. After you have stuffed the lotus root use 2 or 3 toothpicks to fasten the lid to the lotus root.
  5. Boil a pot of water and add 4-5 dried jujubes and 50 grammes of rock sugar. Stir until the rock sugar has dissolved. Add step 4 into the pot and cook for 1.5 hour. Make sure you have enough water to cover the lotus root.
  6. Use 200ml of the liquid from step 5 and add brown sugar and honey. Boil this mixture and simmer until the sauce has reduced by 50%. Use this as a sauce for the lotus root.
  7. Leave the lotus root to cool down. Once it has cooled down, slice it to serve with the sauce from step 6.

 

stuffed lotus root with sweet sticky rice
kelburn castle
kelburn castle
kelburn castle
kelburn castle
kelburn castle
kelburn castle

Three Cup Chicken

three cup chicken

From the first time I heard about three cup chicken I thought it was a Taiwanese dish, but after doing some research I discovered it’s actually a Chinese dish.

Wen Tiansiang was the Duke of Xinguo and famous in Chinese history for his loyalty to the Song Dynasty. He refused Khubilai Khan’s demand for the Song forces to surrender to the Khan invasion, so he suffered for 4 years in a military prison before his execution. He wrote a lot of good poems in the prison and one of his famous quotations is “None since the advent of time have escaped death, may my loyalty forever illuminate the annuals of history.”

This three cup chicken was cooked by a kind prison warden who was also from Jiangxi Province (Wen Tiansiang’s home town is Jiangxi.). He made this dish with limited ingredients; one cup of sweet rice wine, one cup soy sauce and one cup of lard to stew the chicken for Wen Tiansiang before his execution.

In Taiwan, three cup chicken has evolved into one cup of rice wine, one cup of soy sauce and one cup of dark sesame oil. The smell and the taste of this three cup chicken is just divine. In Taiwan, especially the area around Yangming mountain (Yangmingshan) has a lot of hot spring B&B and restaurants. The guests can use hot spring first and then have meal in the restaurant after. One of the more popular dishes is this three cup chicken.

Procedures:

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce is dry out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.

 

Three Cup Chicken

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs including thighs, de-bone
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 6 slices ginger thin
  • 1 chili
  • 1 basil just a handful

Seasonings

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce has dried out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.