So I’ve been pretty damn lazy the last little bit in relation to food. I’ve been so busy, and seen the family so been taken out for meals and some homecooked food (veggie haggis with neeps, tatties and celeriac, jewish apple cake and mango ice-cream, homemade sourdough and figs. I like going to visit my cousins.)
I have cooked a wee bit though, but everytime I have I’ve been in a rush out the door. A friend was unwell, so I would bring round food because, well, you need nutrients more than ever then, right? And cake on your birthday. So I made a Filipino chocolate cake with a chai icing. I’m not allowed to tell you how the cake is made, my mum is very secretive over the recipe (despite the fact she got it out of a book…) but the icing is my part, and goes amazingly with any chocolate cake, or can be used as a hot chocolate sauce. It’s pretty amazing.
This recipe is plenty for a big cake, but it’s so tasty you’ll find something to do with the extra, I’m sure!
100g butter (or substitute)
3/4 cups of cocoa
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 can condensed milk
chilli, ginger, cinnamon, fennel/star anise, cardamom, nutmeg… (powdered or fresh)
1. Melt the butter in the microwave or on a double boiler
2. Mix in the cocoa till you have a smooth mix
3. Add your spices, pinch at a time, till you have a nice balance of heat and sweet
4. Stir in condensed milk, bit by bit till you have enough! While you need a lot of condensed milk, too much with overpower the cocoa.
If using fresh ginger and chilli, there’s a couple of ways I do it. One is cook the ginger and chilli in the butter on a low heat to infuse the butter, then sieving out the spices, or to make a very intense chai masala by simmering the spices and a tea bag in a pan with about 1 cup of milk. Don’t let it over boil, but it’s okay if it thickens up. Strain out the spices, mix with the chocolate mix then add the condensed milk as you would.
I think chocolate/chai is one of the best flavours out there and I don’t understand why more things aren’t chocolatey-chai-y.
The other recipe worth reporting was my super awesome veggie dragon roll.
I miss the sushi from north America so much. I’ve never been to Japan, so it’s the only real comparison I’ve got to the stuff you get here, which isn’t much to shout about (though, wudon’s fried noodle tempura ebi roll is quite something). A sushi bar has opened up near my flat in Glasgow, and it’s cheap, which might be a first for sushi in Scotland. The takoyaki balls are absolutely amazing, and if you get it when it’s fresh, the sushi hits the spot. When I noticed they were introducing new rolls, I got so excited, till it happened and I tried them. The volcano roll just wasn’t the volcano roll I fell in love with, it was just a bit spicy (in Canada, they made it LOOK like a volcano!) so I’ve come to the conclusion that now, it’s up to me to recreate these wonders.
So let me ask you, what’s vegan and the fucking bomb? Answer: Avocado. What’s the else: Sweet potato fries. Combine this with sushi and we’ve got a winner. A green and yellow dragon roll. (I tried to think what was actually green and yellow and give it a smart arse name, but I’m not sure if Lil Wayne Dragon Roll would really get the point across…)
Green and Yellow Dragon Roll
Kewpie Mayonnaise (optional)
1. Cook your rice, let it cool down before seasoning. It’s better to mix this combination separately to dissolve the sugar and salt, and to get the balance right. Also, sake or kombu can be added if you have it. Once you have the mixture right and your rice is cool, season your rice.
2. Chop sweet potato into fry shapes and boil for about 15-30 minutes, so that they’re partially cooked, as we’ll be cooking them again. (though I like my sweet potato tempura mushy, so I wait till they’re fully cooked but some peaple may want the crunch to stay). Let them cool down.
3. Now make your tempura batter. pour your sparkling water into a jug full of ice and place in the fridge till needed. The key to like tempura is a cool batter. In a bowl, mix flour (3 parts wheat, one part corn flour). Mix your water with the egg if using, then add to the flour, or just add to the flour part at a time. Use chopsticks to mix.
4. Make that tempura. Heat vegetable oil up in a wok, dip the sweet potato into the batter and add it in. Make sure the oil is hot, the tempura should only take a few seconds to cook, and should be lightly coloured. Either use chopsticks or a slotted spoon, place onto a plate with some kitchen roll to soak up extra oil. Fish out tempura pieces (it changes the oil’s flavour when they burn, and also go very well in avocado rolls). Try and make your tempura while the batter is cool, it’s no good once it’s warmed up, and doesn’t really keep in the fridge, I discovered.
4. Time to start building that roll! I cover a rolling mat with cling film before I start, as it makes it so much easier to clean. Decide if you want an inside out roll, or maki (the second is prettier, but the first is more practical). For an inside out roll, smooth a layer of rice onto your mat and place a sheet of nori on top and for a regular maki roll, spread a layer of rice onto a nori sheet.
5. Add your fillings! Arrange the tempura in a line, and if using, add a line of sriracha and kewpie mayonnaise. If making a maki, add the avocado and mango in here too.
6. Roll yourself a fat one! Using the mat, fold your rice/nori over the fillings and squeeze it towards yourself. Unroll the mat, move the roll to the centre and roll and squeeze again, till you have a roll. You may want to add some sauce to the edge of the maki to act as a glue. It’s hard to explain how to roll without photos, but it’s the same technique as wrapping a burrito, or a falafel wrap, it’s all about squeezing. Don’t go too hard, but don’t get too worried about squeezing out the fillings, because it’s more likely to come out with a loose roll anyway. Even if you don’t get it right, it’s still gonna taste just as good!
7. If you made maki, chop it up and you’re pretty much there! With the inside out roll, I sliced mango and avocado and arranged it on top of the roll. Cover with cling film and use the rolling mat to push the toppings into the rice. When you remove the cling film, the avocado should follow the shape of the roll. You can cut up the roll with the cling film on to keep it extra neat.
Serve with some pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce., and maybe a salad with a lime sesame ginger dressing.
(v, vg if omitting mayo and egg)
I love cooking for people because it gives me an excuse to make this for my lunch. Even better when you know it was appreciated (“best lunch in years” and “being spoilt” were mentioned). Who knows, bento boxes may become a regular occurrence from here on…