Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Coconut Chocolate Ganache & Coconut Cream | Homemade Christmas Puddings & Perspective

I’m feeling really rather Christmas-y this year and absolutely cannot wait to be curled up with my loved ones all under the same roof, all having a laugh and a bit of down time. Christmas is that time of year where I shut myself off from work and worries for a couple of weeks and just do the things I love, catch up on sleep and rest, and eat. 🙂

I’ve even gone as far as making my own Christmas puddings! I’ve looked at various traditional and gluten-free Christmas pudding recipes, and from those my own concoction full of brandy, mixed nuts and dried fruits, apples, coconut and general Christmas-ness is born. 🙂 I think that I’ve used minimal but best ingredients in order to make it as primal as possible. I absolutely love these hot and covered with a mixture of coconut-chocolate ganache and double cream (see pictures further down the page!). Clotted cream works well, as does coconut cream.

The photo above and in the middle was taken in the dark using a 135W 5500K tungsten lamp and a silver reflector. How cool is that?! I love the result, actually! I just had to be careful with the light, as it was too weak to use a diffuser, but strong enough to make harsh shadows on the pudding. Luckily, the reflector worked nicely.

The two photos above and below it are taken in natural light (on a perfect day; overcast yet not grey!) with a gold reflector. I’m really glad that I used the gold reflector; I was a little worried about mixing daylight, which is a little more blue, with gold, but I really like the effect. 🙂 I think that’s because I feel as though it makes the spices come alive, and it’s also a little reminiscent of home. I can image myself being at home on a cold winter’s eve with the fire flickering in the background. The only thing that would have made this more homely is if this plate was on a pine table, rather than a white board! It would have so reminded me of being at my parent’s house in the countryside in beautiful rural England. 🙂

That’s what food photography does for me; it has to have a story, a theme, a memory behind it. It has to evoke feelings, emotions and daydreams. It’s not just about the food, but it’s about the sentiment and enjoyment of, yes, the food, but also the situation and the people you’re sharing it with. My photos are rather minimalistic, but that’s because I struggle badly with the composition of the photo if there’s too much going on in the frame. I’ll get good one day if I keep practising! When I look back over the photos on this page, I see my improvement, although it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. So it’s good to review regularly to inspire and motivate yourself. 🙂

Anyway, enough daydreaming! And onto talking about the two sauces in this post. These sauces are really rather delicious and go with everything you can think of! The photo below is the coconut-chocolate ganache on a pistachio sweet potato truffle, which is absolutely beautiful!

The sauce can be used for a lot of things. It does dry, as you can see in some of the pictures on this page, which not only makes it great to photograph (as there’s no shiny bits on the sauce), but also makes it great to coat truffles, for example. But if you’re in a warm environment (as coconut oil has a low melting point), or serve it immediately, it makes a really rich sauce that goes great with double cream (I’ve already said that earlier, but it was that good I had to say it again!).

I suppose you could make the sauce in advance, put it in a jar, keep in the fridge, and reheat over a VERY gentle heat when needed. Or you could periodically take spoonfuls from the jar (as we do with Nutella and peanut butter!).

Honestly, I could make this stuff and shape it into balls, pop in the fridge and have chocolate truffles or something. I have a silicon chocolate mould in the shape of coffee beans, and it’s tempting to just pop in in there and eat it. The coconut oil is so light on the tongue and melts as soon as it touches anything warm. It’s delicious and utterly divine!

And in actual fact, that’s what I did do (see the picture below)! I also added a little bit of instant coffee granules (or I suppose you could use freshly made espresso if you wanted), popped them into my silicon mould, and popped in the fridge. They were AMAZING!

Coconut cream is also another *must* to have available in the kitchen, especially around Christmas. This stuff has such a lovely texture and taste, and goes with just about anything! I think it could also be substituted for yoghurt. It’s delicious and silky smooth! Below is pictured a black bean brownie smothered in coconut cream. 🙂

Anyway, just briefly, I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry anyway (yeah right!). Today, and this time last week, I have given a presentation to an audience about my research, and I was really nervous, especially for last week’s! I was worried about the sorts of questions I was going to be asked. But I think it’s all about seeing these presentations as opportunities to grow, and discuss my work and see what I may have overlooked, rather than a sort of interrogation or an attempt to show me up. I if I didn’t know something, there was no need to be embarrassed to admit that “I don’t’ know/haven’t thought that far ahead yet.” But I managed to answer everything, and I answered it well (although the askers genuinely seemed to be interested in my work, rather than trying to tear it apart as it happens at other more specific conferences!). Even Iain Stewart asked me a question! Eeep! 🙂

I was also quite tempted to shout out to all those “feldspar jockies” during the CRES conference (which is essentially a room full of geologists; so my presentation was unique in that sense!) that “geology isn’t a real science!” in the style of Sheldon Cooper! (Apparently my work colleagues nearly died of hysterics after reading my “status” on Google+!)

My point is, I suppose, to just focus on the now. I spent a bit of time worrying about what may never have been, and after the presentations were over, it wasn’t! I did worry about what wasn’t! What a waste of time! And that was on the small scale! Imagine how much time we, as humans, spend worrying about so many things that don’t happen or mean anything. That’s time we could dedicate to just being happy.

So, forget the future, and enjoy the now! I prepared for questions as best as I could. After I did that, I could do no more. So why worry and put yourself through painful mental situations? And even demonstrating in the labs; I’m worried about how the students will perceive me, but again, there’s no shame in not knowing something and I can see it as a chance to get to know the students and improve my teaching, CV and public speaking. 🙂

I’m nervous about tonight’s WOD, but I’ll worry about that when I get there… 🙂

Wednesday’s WOD @ CFP:
Battle of London qualifier 3!

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
50 wall balls 9kg to 10ft/6kg to 9ft
40 KB swings Russian 32/24kg (to just above shoulder height)
30 down-ups (burpees without the jump and clap)
20 pull-ups
100 double unders

Score = total reps

442 reps rx’d

Coconut Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from: Nutrition Stripped and The Sweet Life Online

• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Melt the coconut oil over the hob (VERY gently; do not boil the sauce!) and take off of the heat. Add the maple syrup and cocoa powder, and stir to create a sauce. Add more coconut oil to make the sauce thinner, less coconut oil/more syrup and cocoa powder will make it thicker.

Coconut Cream

• 1 x tin of coconut milk

Simply open the tin, empty it into a mason jar, mix well, and put it int he fridge overnight! By morning, it should have a smooth, creamy texture; perfect for desserts, or even as a yoghurt replacement! 🙂

Please note that this will not work with all brands!

Roasted Chicken, Grilled Sprouts and Satay Sauce

I finally managed to finish my report! Yipppeee! I’m actually rather proud of it, even if it doesn’t make the cut, or I don’t defend it successfully. I did what I thought to be correct and that’s all I can do. I think I’m going to enjoy this trip to the USA. Even if I don’t get the result I desire, I can’t do anymore, and that’s not reason to berate myself any more than I have.

And on top of being stressed out with reaching a deadline and getting up at ridiculous times in the morning just to sit in front of a screen to revise (and cope with a few other things going on!), I still had a lovely week! It’s all about mind set! And of course the epic events that happened…

Last weekend was the epic Tribal Clash… I’ve yet to upload photos and write a blog post with my mum’s upside down berry cake… but that’s for another time! I learnt that I’m actually not a bad trail runner and have a lot of potential (especially considering how often I go running!), I’m actually a pretty good swimmer (again, considering that I haven’t swam since I was in early secondary school!), and it’s just reinforced that I live in an amazing area! Oh, and of course the weekend was just so epic; the WODs were awesome; the people amazing; the weather fantastic… I’m so lucky!

I’ve also smashed the WODs at CFP this week! But I think that’s because of the kind comments people have been saying to me (everyone at CFP is so encouraging!), the buzz from the Tribal Clash, and the fact I’ve been ruminating over for the past several months: if I want to get any better, I have to really push it. It seriously is the mind that’s holding me back. I think I’m going to start by using affirmations before each WOD to rid myself of nervous negativity and limiting beliefs. I’m always afraid to give WODs my all, and even I’m not entirely sure why, because the reasons I come up with are always so pathetic and weak, but they have such a strong hold on me. If I’m going to improve or get any better, and get out of stagnating in the same spot, I really need to stop being a damn pussy! (Or quote ‘vagina!’)

And, as Tim’s away in the Pyrenees on a field trip for his degree course, and dad’s working in London, mum came to stay with me for a couple of nights! We ended up going to the supermarket, getting loads of fresh things (sprouts for 19p, cabbages for 25p, mushrooms for 50p – awesome!), and spent a weekend cooking, talking, procrastinating, and just enjoying each other’s company. It felt like some sort of holiday, especially as we also stopped off at China House for a cuppa on a beautiful day. This is why I hate working (as does everyone, I’m sure!); there are so many things to do in life that are to be enjoyed, not stressed about. Who wants to spent time working with people you wouldn’t see otherwise when you could be doing something else that’s far more enjoyable? No one, that’s who! 😉

Anywho, we went for coffee at The China House, and it was dead inside (early afternoon!) and also it’s beautiful inside! The excerpt on the website says this about the tavern:
“In 1768, William Cockworthy made the first hard porcelain produced in England In Plymouth. The porcelain was made from china clay, hence our name The China House. The building was first seen in a 1666 watercolour of Sutton Harbour painted by Sir Bernard Gromme and has been used for a variety of purposes, including a gun wharf and a hospital for ailing mariners.”

The menu is also serves as great inspiration for future meals! The menu seems simple but overpriced, which is why we don’t eat out. Not only is it cheaper to eat at home, but we enjoy our food more knowing what we’ve put in it, the hygienic conditions, and not to mention the relaxed atmosphere of eating at home. The only bad part is washing up afterwards! But I don’t mind, really 🙂 It’s all part of the experience of eating in, and worth not spending the money for the disappointing experience of takeaways or eating out!

For example, we bought a packet of prepared sprouts for 19p, a load of mushrooms for 50p, a packet of cherry tomatoes for £1, a bag of spinach for £1, and 2 packs of bacon for £2. We defrosted some sausages, and had bacon, sausage, sprouts, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach! All pan-fried in the meat juices! It was really delicious! We steamed the sprouts though, and finished them off in the pan. 🙂

Anywho, here are some of the choices on the menu I may attempt in the future:
• Fried aromatic spiced calamari or seared salmon fillet with mango, pineapple and lime salsa
• Seared salmon served on a warm potato, broad bean and beetroot salad with dill and lemon crème fraîche
• Forestiere chicken breast stuffed with asparagus and mushroom mousse, served on mash with roasted flat mushroom and buttered pea, broad and green bean medley
• Aromatic braised pork belly served on bubble and squeak potato cake with black pudding, apple fritter and sticky ginger beer glaze
• Giant choux pastry bun filled with a white Belgian chocolate mousse, served with mango coulis

Yum yum!

Anyway, about this meal: I think there would be enough sauce to serve with 4 large meals (maybe can add some steamed new potatoes or another vegetable!), but with the portions we had, it would easily serve 6. I suppose that also depends if you want it swimming in sauce or just as an extra.

It is a rich sauce, but it’s very tasty and makes a change from gravy, curries, or any other type of sauce! I think it also goes really well with greens: kale, cabbage, sprouts, etc.

It’s also not paleo at on account of the peanut butter, but I have a feeling it’d be just as nice with almond butter. Although almond butter would definitely give it a different taste. It’ll be a nice experiment, anyway!

Monday’s WOD @ CFP:
OMEM for 20 mins
beg) 1 x power clean
int) 1 x power snatch
adv) 1 x snatch

In teams of 4 (alludes to the Wolf Pack Dominance Series!):
16 min AMRAP
500 squats
100 hang power cleans (60/40)
60 strict chin ups

Yeah buddy!

Roasted Chicken, Grilled Sprouts and Satay Sauce
Sauce adapted from: Simple Comfort Food
Serves 4-6

For the satay sauce:
• 400 ml (1 tin) coconut milk
• 3 heaped tbsps smooth peanut butter
• 1 generous tbsp honey
• 3 heaped tbsp Thai yellow curry paste
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 180 ml (¾ cup) water

For the meal:
• 4-6 chicken thighs, breasts or a whole chicken!
• Enough Brussel sprouts for your guests! 🙂

Pop the chicken in the oven at 160°C for about 1h 15m – 1h 30m.

30 minutes before the chicken is done, steam the sprouts for about 20 minutes. Bring the sauce ingredients to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Take them out and pop them on a skewer (be careful not to burn yourself) and pop under the grill until they start to crisp up a little on each side.

Serve and enjoy! 😀

Enjoyed with my lovely mother: 06.09.2013

Pork Medallions with Apple, Onion and Sweet Potato Mash

The lighting for the photos today was brilliant! It was a super bright day and I think the first bank holiday this year where the weather’s been glorious! 🙂 The photos you can see without vegetables and sauce are cold! I prepared this meal in the morning before going to Crossfit, and when I returned, everything was cold so I took a photo of it without having to worry about people around the table waiting to eat and the hot food steaming up the camera lens.

This pork is apparently outdoor reared British pork, so it was probably the quality of the meat rather than my method of cooking it, but this was definitely a tasty meal; unique with the sweet potato mash, and the gravy was definitely the most delicious yet simplest gravy I’ve ever made. Sure, I’ve made gravies and nice sauces before, but they usually involve alcohol and lots of flour to cornflour, but tasted lovely and thickened up really nicely as well. I’ll definitely be using this sauce recipe again!

We also would have had more veg (I do like a huge pile of broccoli), but I didn’t make enough unfortunately. Usually, I cook way more veg than is needed, so I thought I’d reduce it a little – but there wasn’t quite enough (for our liking, at least!). So we ended up having more mash; paleo comfort food at its finest! It just means that Tim and I will have less tomorrow. But oh well. 🙂

And, we’ve saved the sweet potato skins to have as a meal with salad at some point next week. We’ll top them with cheese, bacon, garlic, onion, sweetcorn and chili! Mmmmmmm.

Anywho, blog entry for the day is here.

Pork Medallions with Apple, Onion and Sweet Potato Mash
Sauce adapted from: Appetite for China
Serves 4

For the sauce and medallions:
• 6 x pork medallions
• 1-2 tbsp butter
• 1 tsp cornstarch (not paleo, I know! But it’s only a little. Maybe you can omit it?)
• 250 ml (1 cup) smooth orange juice (or apple juice)
• 2-4 tbsp dried fruit (I used dried blueberries and cherries; cranberries would also work well)
• 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable (or chicken) stock
• 2 tbsp ground ginger
• 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

For the mash:
• Enough sweet potatoes for your guests
• 2-3 small apples (this will depend on your own tastes)
• 2 medium onions, sliced into rings

• Green veg to add colour: we had broccoli and pak choy. Other options could be kale, greens, cabbage, beans, peas, etc.

The night before:
Ideally, you would want to soak the dried fruit in the orange juice. This means they’ll be plump and juicy. This isn’t mandatory, but simply a little extra. I do think it does make a difference; when I made my favourite carrot cake recipe, my mum actually noticed that I had done something to the dried fruit, as she said that the flavour burst in her mouth when she bit into one! 🙂

For the mash and medallions:
Turn the oven to 175°C and put the sweet potatoes in. No need to add any oil, etc. Bake them for about 2 hours. Then 30-45 minutes before the sweet potatoes are due to be taken out, put the apples in with them.

In the meantime, put about 1 tbsp butter into a large non-stick saucepan and sear the pork medallions for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until they start to brown. You will probably have to heat the butter until it’s almost started browning itself before putting in the medallions.

Once they’ve been seared, pop the medallions on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

In the saucepan, add in the onions and sautée on a low heat until they sweat and then caramelise. Leave them to cool, ready to be mashed with the potatoes and apples, then reheated.

When the sweet potatoes and apples are cooked (poke to the centre of the apples and sweet potatoes to determien if they’re done), put them on a wire cooling rack or wooden chopping board to cool before scooping out the sweet potato flesh and putting it in the saucepan with the onions. Cut the apples into pieces, throwing away the core and seeds, but leaving the skin on. Make sure everything is cool before doing this though. Save the sweet potato skins for snacks! 🙂 Mash everything together, and reheat thoroughly over the hob before serving.

Pop the medallions into the oven about 15 minutes before serving (make sure they’re not pink inside). You can add the pork juices in with the gravy.

For the sauce:
In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients listed. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until everything has reduced by about half, which should be about 5 minutes. Bring back to the boil just before serving.

For the vegetables:
Don’t forget to steam the broccoli for about 15-20 minutes before serving, and add the pak choy abuot 4 minutes before the broccoli is finished. However, you can have whatever veg you want and can cook it anyway you like! 🙂

Eaten around the table in Plymouth with the best people in my life: 25.05.2013

Seared Scallops with Plum and Dill Sauce

Well today has been a lovely day! First off, training at CFP! We have a great team at the DWF competition in Wales this weekend; really wish I decided to go! But at the same time, I’m quite glad to have spent this lovely day training and cooking for my lovely family 🙂

Tim and I have been having busier and busier weeks as time goes by! By the weekend I specifically make no plans other than to spend time with my family and pursuing hobbies. I’m so lucky to be living where I live, doing what I do and knowing the people I know. Almost every other Saturday, when dad’s home from work, our parents come over to our place for a nice, gourmet (well, as gourmet as I can make it) meal. I really love being able to share something that I’ve created, something that’s a product of my time, energy and enthusiasm, with the people I love. I miss them all the time and just want to attempt to give back things I’ve taken from them over my twenty-three years. Although that’s an impossible task, I’ll do what I can to show them how much they mean to me, and that not once, have I ever taken them for granted. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to count my blessings more, and relish in the beauty of life. I’ve definitely found myself “high” on life quite regularly these past few of years!

Anyway! This afternoon, we had a lovely three course meal (if I do say so myself!). For starters, we had a colourful salad with mixed leaves, grated carrot, pecans, dried fruit, pomegranate, various seeds, plum, strawberries, tomatoes, olives, raspberries, onion, toasted coconut, Parma ham… you name it! And the best thing, was that these scallops were so simple to rustle up!

Scallops are one of those things you absolutely can’t walk away from. You have to be watching over it constantly. Do not attempt to do what I do, and just take a couple of seconds to do something else, assuring yourself that you will remember to check back in literally one minute’s time… because trust me, you won’t. You’ll forget, and find yourself munching on chewy, over-cooked scallops. What a waste!

Scallops can indeed be eaten raw, but are definitely tasty hot and toasty! However, it is far better to have a slightly undercooked scallop than an overcooked, overly-firm one.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to get them with the pink sack of goodness (the “roe” or “coral”), eat it! I hear it’s packed with omega-3’s and they are so tasty! I believe in America that it’s extremelt difficult to buy them with the coral still attached. But in Europe, they’re rather a delicacy. 🙂 I omitted them from my plate for taking the photos, but added them back when I sat down at the table to scoff them with my family. A lovely dish I wanted to try and to share my efforts with some of my most treasured and beautiful people on the planet. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did!

Seared Scallops with Plum and Dill Sauce
Adapted from: Fou de Food
Serves 4

• 1-2 tablespoons (clarified) butter
• 12 x scallops (with or without the coral/roe)
• 4 x plums
• a couple of strawberries and raspberries
• ½ tablespoon dried dill
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• Splash of lemon juice
• Salad (as a side)
• Lemon zest (to garnish)

For the sauce:
Cut plums and strawberries, and pop, along with the raspberries, into a saucepan. Heat on medium until all fruit sweats and becomes tender. Do not crisp or blacken. Add the dried dill, lemon juice and cayenne pepper (only a pinch though!). Leave to cool for a bit and then blend everything.

For the scallop dish:
Firstly, prepare the salad on the plates.

Rinse the scallops under cold water and remove the coral and gut. Keep the coral and cook as well if preferred, it’s really tasty, but they don’t take a long to cook as the scallop itself.

Heat the butter in the large non-stick frying pan until hot and almost smoking. Pop the scallops into the pan and sear for 1 minute and 30-45 seconds on each side, depending on the side. Don’t move the scallops, otherwise you’ll hinder the lovely browning process. But if you need to take a peek at one, hey ho, go ahead. 🙂

If you’re not sure whether they’re cooked or not, you can perhaps cut your own scallop open to see whether they’ve turned from translucent to opaque throughout. Ideally, you want them to have a slightly translucent centre.

In the meantime, heat up the sauce!

When the scallops are done, pop them on kitchen towel for a moment to drain any excess butter, if any. Arrange the scallops on the plate, top with a little sauce, spoon some on the side and sprinkle zest over the plate. Serve immediately.

Eaten: 03.11.2012 with my lovely family 🙂

Spotted Dick with Cherry Compote and Vanilla Bean Custard

For Father’s Day, I asked dad what I could cook for him as a ‘gift.’ He asked for Thai Green Curry and Spotted Dick.

This recipe I found called for a strawberry and rhubarb rather than cherries. I was going for blueberries, but there weren’t any in the fridge, even though I swear that there were! So I opted for cherries! It would have been nice to have had more (so I doubled the amount that I used in the recipe below), as mine only just managed to cover the top.

Ours was with a vanilla bean custard, which was extremely good! But I made mine ahead and reheated it later, but unfortunately it was a little lumpy and not too attractive to the eye. However it still tasted delicious. 🙂

Here’s a nice image of dad and his mum on Mother’s Day in 2008. And a handsome image of Tim, just thrown into the mix 🙂

Spotted Dick with Cherry Compote
Adapted from: There’s A Newf in My Soup
Serves 16

For the cherry compote:
• 300g cherries, pitted
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 x sachet gelatine
• 2 tbsp brandy
• 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the spotted dick:
• butter and flour, for greasing
• 10 tbsp/170g butter or suet
• 1¼ cups/300g sugar
• 4 x eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 2¾ cups/340g self-raising flour
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 cup/150g dried fruit

For the cherry compote:
Mix the sugar and gelatine in a bowl. Then add the cherries, lemon juice and brandy, and simmer over low heat until thick and syrupy – about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, butter a cake tin, then dust with flour (knocking the excess out).

Pour the syrup in the bottom of the tin, arranging the cherries (without burning yourself!) in a pretty fashion. Leave to cool at room temp. until set.

For the spotted dick:
Trace a circle on parchment paper slightly larger than the cake tin, and cut out.

Melt the butter in a large bowl, add the sugar, and cream with a wooden spoon until pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Sift the flour into the mixture, and beat until well combined. Then add the milk and beat, also. Dollop the mixture on top of the cherry compote, and flatten out.

Fill a large, shallow pan with water, and put some metal cookie cutters or something in the bottom to create a platform on which to place the cake tin, about 1” above the water. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat down so it simmers.

Put the cake tin on top of the platform, cover the tin with the parchment paper, and put the lod on the pan. Steam for about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. If using little ramekins, it will be about 1 hour.

The spotted dick will puff up a lot. I used a bread knife to even the bottom of mine before I inverted it onto a plate, and sliced it, and served it with homemade vanilla custard. 🙂

Vanilla Bean Custard
Adapted from: Bite My Thumb
Serves 4-6

• 3 x egg yolks
• 1 cup/250ml double cream
• 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (1 tsp vanilla essence)
• 3 tbsp sugar

Boil water in a small saucepan.

Whisk the cream and egg yolks in a Pyrex bowl until smooth throughout. Then add the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla essence) and sugar, and whisk until homogeneous.

Place the bowl over the simmering water (this is known as a bain-marie), and whisk continuously so no lumps form. The mixture should be whisked for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and forms a custard like colour and consistency.

Remove the bowl from the pan and pour over your dessert, and enjoy 🙂

Enjoy 🙂

Enjoyed: 19.06.2011