Saturday, February 3, 2018

String Beans with Shallots

I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week is How Good Does That Look?, Ina's popular phrase in her cooking shows, when she has cooked a delicious recipe, and plated, she would say just that.

I've made one of her simple vegetable recipe for dinner. String Beans with Shallots. Ina has her string beans boiled briefly in salted boiling water. I have gone the microwave route. Placed the french beans in a microwave bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of water with a light pinch of salt, microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, repeat, stir and repeat again. Refresh under cold running water in a colander. Drain. I have used about 6 or 7 shallots, and have skipped the butter, using only vegetable oil. 

The chopped shallots are sauteed in oil until lightly brown and the french beans are added to the shallots, with some salt and lots of black pepper, tossing the beans until they are heated through.

How good does that look!
Simple, easy and taste nice too!

We had the french beans served alongside Madhur Jaffrey's Pork Vindaloo with Potatoes, and plain basmati rice. It was a lovely dinner.

String Beans with Shallots
(Ina Garten,
1 pound French String Beans (haricots verts), ends removed
kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 large shallots, large diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1-1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of iced water.
Heat the butter and oil in a very large saute pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and saute the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.
If you're using regular string beans, blanch them for 3 minutes, until they're crisp-tender.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
How Good Does That Look?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rum and Raisin Cake

It's IHCC's first Potluck Week for 2018. I've made Rum and Raisin Cake from the cookbook Sweet by  Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Ever since I bought the book, this is the recipe I've been wanting to make, I love cakes with rum, and this cake did not disappoint.

The only change I've made is to reduce the brown sugar slightly and omitted the glaze, as I prefer eating cakes without any glaze or frosting. As long as the cake is moist, buttery and delicious, the glaze or any frosting would not be missed, at least for me.

The raisins needed to be soaked in rum the day before. 
The batter is really thick, thicker than most bundt cakes I've made, and that got me worried that the cake would be heavily densed. I was tempted to add a few tablespoons of milk, but decided to follow the recipe instead. The filled bundt pan with the batter was a weight! 
During baking, the cake almost did not rise at all, the level of the batter when filled into the pan was almost exactly that as when the cake was done baking. It smells incredibly rum-delicious when the cake was baking.

When the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, I turned the cake out of the bundt pan, and that was when I knew that the cake would be OK, as it was quite soft and tender to the touch.

This cake smells incredibly fragrant from the rum, with moist, surprisingly soft tender crumbs, maybe due to the sour cream used for the batter, and not only it is rum-fragrant, you can taste the rum too, a definite plus in my books, delicious!  I really like this cake, and would love to make a yellow version of it by replacing the raisins with sultanas and using white sugar instead of brown. 

Recipe can be found from here, or from Sweet , page 124.

kitchen flavour's notes;
reduced brown sugar to 200gm

omitted salt, as I've used salted butter

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
January 2018 Potluck

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #25 hosted by 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mexican Hot Chocolate

"Get Cozy" is the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. "This time of year it's nice to snuggle up on the sofa, GET COZY with something yummy to eat and bingewatch the next Netflix hit"  Well, I would love to snuggle up on the sofa, get cozy with something yummy and browsing thru a couple of my cookbooks!  I am not a TV person, but I would browse through my cookbooks every night.

Ina Garten's Mexican Hot Chocolate is very good, easy and quick to make. Milk and a tablespoon of brown sugar is simmered, then remove from heat, and whisk in chopped bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper. Let sit for a few minutes, then reheated until the mixture comes to almost a simmer. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer.

Ina has included a recipe for Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts for dipping into the hot chocolate, but I have omitted that. All I need after a busy day when I was looking forward to relax with a couple of my cookbooks for company, is just a cup of comfy beverage, and Ina's Mexican Hot Chocolate does just that!

We love this! It is very chocolaty, "cinnamony-fragrant", with a slight spicy kick of the cayenne powder. This is the first time I'm using cayenne powder in a chocolate drink, and it definitely would not be the last time. Very yummy indeed! Both my son and daughter are already asking me to make this hot chocolate drink again!

Mexican Hot Chocolate
(source :
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 4½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Small pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • Long cinnamon sticks for stirrers (optional)

Place the milk and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring just to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in the chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Allow to steep for 3 minutes. Reheat the mixture over low heat until it almost comes to a simmer.
Pour into mugs, add cinnamon stirrers, if using, and serve with cinnamon doughnuts for dipping.
I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Get Cozy!