Fig Parmesan Salad with Balsamic Reduction | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

This simple yet delicious fig salad incorporates with all wonderful flavours of the saltiness of Parmesan, the sour tang of vibrant red currants and the sweetness of figs and balsamic reduction.

  • 60 ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 head Lollo rosso lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2-3 Ripe figs, cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan, shaved
  • 1 handful Red currants
  • 1-2 tbsp Argan oil
  • Salt and freshly mulled black peppercorns
  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add in balsamic vinegar and reduce for about 5 minutes until thick and syrupy.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine lollo rosso lettuce, figs, shaved Parmesan, red currants and argan oil. Divide between two serving plates and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Season with salt and pepper to taste. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Baked Fresh Strawberries with Pistachios in Quark Spelt Blankets | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

The dough ‘blanket’ is mainly prepared with Quark, wholegrain, and refined spelt flours. Strawberries can be replaced with banana and use apricot jam instead of strawberry jam.

Quark, literally translated as ‘curd’, is a German fresh cheese, very similar to the American cottage cheese. It’s a curd cheese made from skimmed milk and soured with a lactic starter. Quark is very popular in Germany. It can be eaten plain on its own or make it into a sauce, spread, dessert or cake.

Quark Dough Filling

  • 200 g Wholegrain spelt flour
  • 100 g Refined spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 150 g Low-fat Magerquark (German fresh cheese)
  • 6 tbsp Milk
  • 6 tbsp Rape seed oil
  • 70 g Caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla sugar
  • Pinch of salt

  • 300 g Fresh strawberries, halved
  • Strawberry jam
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp Pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • Sugar pearls

  1. Whisk the spelt flours and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add in quark, milk, oil, sugars and salt. With a handheld electric mixer fitted with dough hooks at high speed, stir all the ingredients until just incorporated, for 1 minutes. Don’t overdo it, or the dough will be sticky.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cover it with a plastic film and roll out the dough into a 24x60cm rectangular. Cut out 10 squares, each 12x12cm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Place two strawberry halves in the center of dough. Brush strawberries with strawberry jam. Brush four corners lightly with beaten egg. Pinch two corners crosswise to make an open pocket. (look a bit like Duchess Danish pastry) Brush the pockets with beaten egg and sprinkle with chopped pistachios and sugar pearls.
  4. Bake open pockets in the center of hot oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla sauce or whipped cream. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Pasta with Green Asparagus and Black Olives | © 2011 |

A quick, tasty everyday pasta made with green asparagus, tomatoes, and olives for a stress-free supper.

  • 120 g Pasta
  • 300 g Green asparagus, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Large clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 200 g Chopped can tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Black olives, pitted
  • Parmesan for dusting
  • Cilantro leaves for garnishing
  1. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for about 8 minutes or according to package instructions until al dente.
  2. Trim, rinse and cut the green asparagus into 2-inch chunks. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in green asparagus chunks and crushed garlic, stirring occasionally, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour in chopped can tomatoes and pitted black olives. Stir to combine all the ingredients until incorporated and asparagus chunks are tender.
  4. Drain the pasta and mix with sauce. Serve with chopped coriander leaves and grated Parmesan. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Sweet Potato Salad with Baby Spinach and Feta | © 2011 |

Nothing tastes fresher, happier and better than a spring salad just picked from your own garden or windowsill. Besides that, salad is a great way to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption.

Baby spinach is amazingly easy to grow, as seeds germinate in cool weather. I started mine outdoors in containers around the mid-April and 3-4 weeks later, they were ready for harvest.

The flavour of this salad sparkles with the subtle depth and bright note of acidity from Balsamic vinegar, its tartness tempered by the natural sweetness of tasty, low-calorie roasted orange sweet potatoes.

Salad Dressing

  • 700 g Orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 100 g Baby spinach
  • 1 handful Almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1 Small red onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 100 g Feta, crumbled

  • 3 tbsp Balsamic
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Clear honey
  • 1 tbsp Wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat a grill or broiler to medium-high. Place the potato slices, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and broil until they are nicely caramelised, 5 minutes on each side. Adjust the oven to the bake setting at the temperature 180C/350F. Cook for 15 minutes until they are fork tender.
  2. Toss baby spinach, toasted almonds, and red onions together and divide the mixture into two serving plates. Top with crumbled feta.
  3. Whisk the balsamic, olive oil, honey and mustard together. Season well. Pile sweet potato slices on top of the salad and drizzle with the dressing. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers with Chives and Mustard | © 2011 |

These delicious crackers are indulgently buttery, cheesy, flaky and practically melt in your mouth. A mix of sharp Cheddar and Grana Padano was used here, but if you can’t get enough sharp-tasting cheese, then substitute Grana Padano with vintage Cheddar.

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers with Chives and Mustard

adapted from Taste

  • 150 g Wholewheat flour
  • 150 g All purpose flour
  • 250 g Chilled butter, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 60 g Sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 60 g Grana Padano, grated
  • 3 tbsp Fresh chives, chopped

  1. Whisk and sift together the wholewheat flour and all purpose flour in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Line two baking trays with parchment papers.
  2. Beat chopped butter and mustard in a bowl until combined and creamy. Stir in the flour mixture, grated Cheddar, Grana Padano, and chives. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Use your hands to bring the dough together.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll out 1 portion onto a lightly floured work surface until about 5mm thick. Use a wave or flower 5cm-diamenter cookie cutter to cut cookies from the dough. Place on the prepared trays. Place them in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Bake the cookies, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough portion. Store the crackers in an airtight container for up to 1 week. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Spinach Spelt Galette with Mushrooms and Beetroot | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

You can call this ‘crostata’ if you like. They are basically the same thing, a rustic tart crust folded over the filling, sweet or savoury, baked flat rather than in a tart pan, just French and Italian, respectively. Recently I have come across a spinach galette and a mushroom galette, both of which looked very interesting and delicious. So I purposely made lots of red wine spinach, baked mushrooms, so I would have leftovers just for this recipe. Bring this to potlucks or picnics as it tastes FANTASTIC cold.

Crust Filling

  • 180 g Wholegrain spelt flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 70 g Cold unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp Ice water

  1. Place wholegrain spelt flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in the cold butter and mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle ice water into the bowl and continue to mix ingredients with your fingertips. Turn out the dough onto your work surface and gather the dough into a ball. Wrap the ball with a plastic film and flatten the dough into a thick round. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour, or up to two days.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to form a 15-inch circle. Sprinkle half of Parmesan and Gorgonzola in the center, leaving 2-3 inches border all around. Then mound the red wine spinach, roasted mushrooms, and beet on the top of cheeses.
  3. Fold the border up and over the filling to form a rim, pleating as necessary. Now sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Gorgonzola over the vegetables. Brush egg glaze over the rim.
  4. Bake the galette until the crust is nicely golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Slide onto a serving platter and sprinkle some garden cress over. Serve hot or at room temperature. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Potato Bread Batons with Cheese and Pear | © 2011 | | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

What could be better than homemade bread, especially when it’s studded with the earthy flavours of cheese, walnuts, potatoes, fresh thyme and pears. I love it served with a steaming soup on ice cold days. It’s also great for a school packed lunch.

Potato Bread Batons with Cheese and Pear

adapted from daheim und unterwegs

Bread Cheese Spread

  • 200 g Potatoes, diced and boiled
  • 18 g Fresh yeast
  • 550 g Water, lukewarm
  • 100 g Sourdough
  • 800 g Spelt flour
  • 150 g Rye flour
  • 18 g Salt
  • 150 g Walnut, chopped
  • 4 Pears, seeded and cut into wedges

  • 150 g Gorgonzola
  • 150 g Emmental
  • 150 g Sour cream
  • 170 g Quark
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp Bread crumb

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Fill a large pot with the potatoes. Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in water. Add in sourdough, flours, salt, walnuts and cooked potatoes. Mix on slow speed for 4 minutes, then increase the speed and mix a further 4 minutes.
  3. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 6 even portions. Shape each into a ball and rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Knead the dough balls gently and briefly. Cover, and rest for a further 15 minutes. Shape each dough ball into a baton and allow them to rest, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. To prepare the cheese spread by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag. With a sharp serrated knife, slash the top of the bread lengthwise, about 1/4-inch deep. Pipe the cheese mixture onto the cut and press 5-6 pear wedges on top. Allow them to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F and bake for about 35 minutes until nicely golden brown. | © 2011 | | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Homemade Beef Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Sauce | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

This is an comforting and delicious homemade pasta with browned ground beef filling. It’s simply sauced with a roasted tomato sauce. If you’re a fan of homemade pasta, take some time and make your dinner special.

Homemade Beef Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Sauce

adapted from Klassische italienische Küche von Julia della Croce

Roasted Tomato Sauce Beef Ravioli

  • 500 g Roma tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp Fresh thyme
  • 200 ml White wine
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

  • 300 g Pasta flour (or bread flour)
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 200 g Ground beef
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg white, beaten
  • Parmesan, grated (optional)
  • Chives, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat an oven to 200C/400F. Slice each tomato in half lengthwise and place on a sheet pan, cut side up. Roughly chop the onion and scatter the pieces around the tomatoes. Scatter the garlic cloves on top of the onion. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with the sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme.
  2. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the oven and transfer the roasted tomatoes into a large saucepan. With an immersion blender process the tomatoes to the desired consistency. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. Add in white wine and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  3. Combine pasta flour and salt on a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Place 3 eggs and olive oil in the well, and incorporate the flour into the liquid ingredients until combined. Knead the dough vigorously until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Allow the dough to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour before rolling it out. Flatten a manageable amount of dough (about the size of an orange) on a clean work surface dusted with flour. Cover the rest of the dough. Using a rolling pin, work from the center of the dough to the edges with a back-and-forth motion, rolling and stretching the dough. Continue rolling, turning the dough occasionally and dusting it with flour to prevent sticking and tearing, until the sheet is the desired thickness. Leave the dough sheets to dry for 10-15 minutes before cutting.
  5. Cook ground meat, minced shallot and garlic in a skillet until meat is browned. Remove and strain off the fat. Stir in one egg, parsley and salt.
  6. Cut the dough sheet into 8-cm wide strips and place spoonfuls of filling about 4cm apart on one strip. Brush the area between fillings with egg white and top with a second strip of dough. Form ravioli by pressing around each filling to form a seal. Dust with flour and cut into squares with a pastry wheel. Crimp the edges of the ravioli with a fork to ensure that they are sealed properly. Alternatively you can cut out the wraps using a 2-inch cookie cutter.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ravioli for 5 minutes in a rapidly boiling salted water. Drain and gently toss with the sauce. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan and chopped chives on top if desired. Serve immediately. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cheese Croutons | © 2011 | | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

This delicious homemade herb-flavoured tomato soup is healthy, creamy and easy to put together. It is best enjoyed with some cheesy croutons. The recipe calls for the canned tomato, so pick the best quality canned tomatoes you can find, for example, Roma, San Marzano.

Garlic Parmesan Croutons Soup

  • 3 Hard rolls, cubed
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1 Small carrot, chopped
  • 1 can / 400 g Diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 250 ml Vegetable broth
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Pinch of clove
  • 1/3 tsp Dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 120 ml Soya cream, room temperature
  • Some shaved Parmesan, optional
  • 1 tbsp Chives, chopped, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Place the cubed bread in a large bowl, add in minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan, black pepper and olive oil, and toss until the bread is evenly coated.
  2. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, and stir the croutons. Return to oven, and cook for 20 more minutes or until browned and crunchy. Remove and toss thoroughly with the rest of grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.
  3. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, bay leaf, a pinch of clove and dried basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Discard the bay leaf. With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth or puree in batches in a food processor fitted with knife blade. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk in soya cream and heat through over the low heat.
  5. Ladle into bowls and place a few pieces of croutons in each, topped with a slice of shaved Parmesan cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is melted. Sprinkle the chopped chives on top if used. | © 2011 | | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Happy Lunar New Year 2012! 祝福大家龙年行大运,行运一条龙!Happy Dragon Year 2012!

Mango and Vanilla Ice Cream Trifles | © 2011 | | © 2011 |

Trifle, a lovely and very British dessert dish, is usually made from vanilla custard, fruit, cake and whipped cream, very similar to parfait. These ingredients are usually arranged into layers in the trifle bowl.

A traditional English trifle uses stale sponge or pound cake, which may be soaked in alcohol, like sherry or port wine. Over time, many variations on the original recipe have been created. Nuts or layers of whipped cream may be added for variety. The flavour of the custard may also be changed to complement the flavour of the cake.

Here is my leftover tribute to this English dessert with its multiple layers in glass. Dip your spoon into this sweet delight to end your New Year’s celebration with these individual delicious trifles.

  • 500 ml Vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 200 g Cream cheese, softened
  • 250 g Mango puree
  • 10 Spekulatius cookies, crumbled
  • 200 g Whipped cream
  • Physalis fruit
  1. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the softened vanilla ice cream and beat until thoroughly combined.
  2. First arrange the half of the cookie crumbs over the bottoms of glasses. Next spoon on the mango puree, to just cover the cookie crumbs. Lastly cover the puree with cream mixture and then repeat the layers once more.
  3. Pipe the whipped cream on top and garnish with a physalis. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. | © 2011 | | © 2011 |