Your (culinary) choice!
Judging by the amount of recipes going up on this blog, one could be led to believe that I am obsessed with food and/or have a eating disorder. It actually runs in the family, if truth be told – my brothers and I are all passionate foodies and love to cook! Of course, our cultural roots come into play when we get busy in the kitchen – thanks to our Burmese roots, Asian cuisine will always get a big thumbs up. Sadly enough, German culinary delights are hardly ever cooked up in our family, and I have so far failed at concocting any of the major teutonic culinary chef d’oeuvres. Anyone who lives in or has travelled to Bavaria will confirm that the regional roasted duck breast with red cabbage and dumplings will titillate your taste buds in all the right ways. Definitely worth a try.
Deprivation or exaltation?
Let’s face it: January is on its way out, New Years’ resolutions went out of the window three weeks ago, and the mindnumbingly glacial temperatures demand an ever-increasing ingestion of carbohydrates. It goes without saying that it all ultimately boils down to self-discipline, and some of us are endowed with more of that precious energy than others. Or the latter with more zest and lust for life than their disciplined opponents? All a matter of interpretation, really.
Given this razor-sharp divide between saints and sinners, I thought it wise to do a recipe post factoring in people’s ever-varying degrees of discipline, penchant for the forbidden fruit and ascetic tendencies. I myself adhere to a no carb-diet since the end of 2016, allowing myself a “day off” once a week- the temptation otherwise being too strong.
Lean eating versus indulgence?
In my effort to cut out carbs altogether, I stumbled upon Kayla Itsines’ cookbook – those unaware of Instagram queens and kings, Aussie fitness guru Kayla grew famous via the aforementioned social media channel, known foremost for her excruciating bikini bootcamp she promotes worldwide. While I certainly don’t aspire to introducing that kind of fitness fanaticism into my unglamorous life, I am very much an advocate of healthy lean food that will not leave you starving. Before I launched myself on this one-way road of healthy living, however, I had one final slap-up meal, finished off by my all-time favourite dessert by the ubiquitous Delia Smith.
Amongst Kayla’s finest features the Chinese dish “San Choy Bow”, which is why I have chosen it for my present post. And for those of you who love to eat and think all this diet talk is really for the birds, I have included Delia’s scrumptiously delicious “Pears in Marsala Wine”. An all-time favourite with family and friends. Enjoy, saints and sinners alike
SAN CHOY BOW
(photo credit: Kayla Itsines)
200 g rice vermicelli noodles
1 garlic cloves
2cm ginger (peeled and grated)
170g lean pork mince
half a medium cucumber (finely diced)
2 small handfuls of bean sprouts
half a medium carrot (grated)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
4 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
6 large cos lettuce leaves
How to do it
place noodles in heatproof bow and cover with boiling water. leave for 10 min, drain noodles under cold water, cut then into shorter lengths. Set aside in bowl.
Add garlic, ginger and pork to previously heated frying pan (using the tiniest bit of oil!), cook for 5-7 minutes. Transfer to heatproof bowl and set aside.
Add noodles, cucumber, bean sprouts, carrot and coriander to bowl containing pork and stir gently.
whisk soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and honey in small bowl. Pour over pork and noodle mixture.
to serve: place lettuce leaves on serving plate and fill with san choy bow mixture.
PEARS BAKED IN MARSALA WINE
8 large hard pears
570 ml Marsala
50g caster sugar
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod
3 sachets bourbon vanilla sugar
300 g marzipan paste
To serve: 1 tub 500ml crème fraîche
How to do it:
Peel the pears thinly, using a potato peeler, leaving the stalks intact.
Then slice off a thin little disc from each pear base so they can sit upright.
Using an apple corer, remove the core of the pears, to then insert the marzipan paste.
Now lay the pears on their side in the casserole. Pour in the Marsala then sprinkle over the caster sugar, the vanilla sugar and add the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod.
Bring everything up to simmering point, then cover the casserole and bake the pears on a low shelf in the oven for about 1½ hours
After that remove the casserole from the oven, turn the pears over on to their other side, then replace the lid and return them to the oven for a further 1½ hours.
When the pears are cooked, transfer them to a serving bowl to cool, leaving the liquid in the casserole. Then remove the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod.
Bring the syrup just up to simmering point, by which time it will have thickened slightly. Then remove from the heat and when the syrup is cool, spoon it over the pears, basting them well.
Serve the pears sitting upright in individual dishes with the sauce spooned over and the crème fraîche handed round separately. I like to add vanilla sugar to give the crème fraiche more flavour.