Weekend Ideas: How to celebrate the Year of the Snake

8 Feb

The Year of the Snake

Every year I always look forward to Chinese New Year. Firstly I love Chinese food and what better reason to feast on Chinese, secondly it’s a great opportunity to invite friends over and share a delicious meal.

So this year I thought I would give you a few ideas for your own Chinese new celebrations.

First up on the menu – Aubergine with Chilli and Garlic Sauce. I don’t know if you guys remember me raving on about the delicious food I had in Chinatown in San Francisco back in November? You don’t? Well, let me remind you. The Aubergine with Chilli and Garlic sauce might have been the best dish of my entire holiday (and I had some good food). It was so good and I have been desperate to have a good reason to attempt my own version. Yay for Chinese New Year!

How did it go you want to know… well. It went very very well. I am not sure if it is quite as good as the one I had in the House of Nanking, but I think that dish has been given the status of legend probably never to be touched by anything I create. That aside this tasted good. I also found some super exciting graffiti aubergienes to use, it doesn’t make any difference to the taste but it sure looks cool.

Next up Pak Choi with Chilli and Garlic. I love Pak Choi and to spice this one up I used some Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, ginger, chilli and a sprinkle of nuts to give it some excitement. So simple to make and very satisfying to eat. Definitely worth a try.

Then finally my sweet potato, white chocolate and coconut fortune cookies. I always like to end a meal with something sweet and I love fortune cookies, but often have a hard time finding them. So this year I decided to make my own version. The desserts are shaped like fortune cookies but are a delicious pastry treat with a yummy centre. If you are looking for something simple but scrumptious to finish your meal this could be the answer.

Well enough yapping about how delicious it all is and time to hit the recipes book.

Aubergiene with Chilli and Garlic Sauce ( feeds two)

Ingredients Ingredients

1 graffiti aubergine chopped into chunks

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 red chilli finely chopped

a handful of fresh coriander ( including stalks) finely chopped

2tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp white vinegar

200ml water

1tsp cornflour to thicken to sauce

salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and place the aubergiene into it, leave this to cook on a low heat until the aubergiene is starting to soften
  2. Place the garlic, chilli and corrainder in the pan and stir for 2 mins
  3. Next add the soy sauce, sugar and white vinegar and stir for a minute
  4. Finally add the water and salt to taste and leave this to simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally
  5. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary ( I ended up adding a touch more sugar at this point)
  6. Stir in the cornflour to thicken your sauce and keep on the heat for a few minutes until you have the desired consistency
  7. Then serve with some rice

Aubergiene with Chilli and Garlic

Pak Choi with Ginger, Chilli and Garlic

Ingredients 

3 Pak choi

2 cloves garlic

1 red chilli

thumb size piece of ginger chopped into small chunks

dash of soy sauce

1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns

1tbsp cashew nuts or peanuts ( or a mix of both)

Method

  1. Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a pan until you start to smell them ( this wont take long at all)
  2. Tip the peppercorns into a pestle and morter and grind down, add your nuts and grind until there are a breadcrumb consistency
  3. In a steamer, steam your pak choi for 5 mins
  4. In a wok/ frying pan heat some oil and cook the chilli, garlic and ginger
  5. Then add the pak choi to the pan and a dash of soy sauce and stir
  6. Next sprinkle over the nut and peppercorn mixture and serve

Pak Choi

Sweet Potato, White Chocolate and Coconut “fortune cookie”

Ingredients Fortune Cookies1

½ sweet potato

dash coconut milk

50g white chocolate

10g grated dark chocolate

1tbsp desicated coconut

for pastry

4oz flour

2oz butter

dash water

Method

  1. Firstly make the pastry but placing flour and butter in a food processor, blitz until this is a breadcrumb consistency then slowly add some water until this combines in a ball
  2. Place on a floured work surface, roll into a ball,wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for a hour
  3. Next peel your sweet potato and chop into chunks, boil in a pan for about 20 mins or until soft
  4. Remove potato from the pan and leave to cool
  5. In a double boiler melt your white chocolate over a stove
  6. Next in a food processor place the sweet potato, white chocolate and a dash of coconut milk ( about 1tbsp) and blitz until you have a creamy paste
  7. Remove from processor and sprinkle in dessicated coconut and grated chocolate
  8. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees
  9. Remove your pastry from the fridge and on a floured work surface roll out until it is about the thickness of a pound coin
  10. Cut out circles using a round cutter (I used a fairly big cutter – about 6cm diameter)
  11. Place a teaspoon of the sweet potato mix into the pastry fold over and shape like a fortune cookie
  12. Repeat the process until you have used all the pastry
  13. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins

Fortune Cookies

That’s it, three simple and delicious From Scratch dishes that will make your Chinese New Year feast that little bit different. Happy New Year!

P.s. If you are looking for even more inspiration – check out the feast I cooked in my first year From Scratch – Sweet and Sour Chicken, Dim Sum, Fried Rice and much more!

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