Archive for the 'Sauces' Category

How to make Kung Pao Chicken


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* Go to the recipe for Kung Pao Chicken

One of the dishes we returned to time and again when we were visiting our friend Cristy in Beijing a few years ago was the popular Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken (also called Kung Po or Gung Po chicken). Traditional Gong Bao Ji Ding is a spicy Sichuan dish, the westernised version of which is often very different from the authentic Sichuanese version. I’m sure there are many variations of the dish within China, as well. But it’s not usual to add other vegetables like onions, peppers (capsicum) or cashews (or even pineapple?!).

I like to call it Gong Bao Ji Ding, because it has such a lovely ring to it, and apologies to Mandarin speakers the world over for my terrible pronunciation. Perhaps, as I’m erring towards attempting to cook an authentic version of the dish, I should also be trying to pronounce it correctly. But the truth is, I simply don’t know how.

There are very few main ingredients in Gong Bao Ji Ding – just chicken, peanuts and spring onions (green onions), really. But, as with many east Asian dishes, the complexity is in the many flavourings. Continue reading ‘How to make Kung Pao Chicken’

How to cook with truffles

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Go to the recipe for Pasta with white truffle
Go to the recipe for Eggs in cocotte with white truffle

On “schoolnights”, when everything happens at helter-skelter pace, it’s always a rush to get home from work, throw a meal together and do the day’s housekeeping before crashing into bed. If I’m lucky Waz has been on an early shift and we can share the evening duties.

So on the weekends we really like to give a lot more time and attention to creating lovely meals that we can enjoy eating at a slower pace.

I thoroughly respect the ideology of the Slow Food Movement – begun in 1986 to celebrate and enjoy local and regional cuisines. So when time permits I love to create meals that embody the Slow Food philosophy of creating the simplest of dishes, with the highest quality ingredients.

Chef Michelle and I recently treated ourselves with a whirlwind weekend trip to the centre of the white truffle universe – the Alba truffle festival in Piemonte near Turin, Italy. We ate a fantastic truffle meal at a Slow Food restaurant with some luscious local Barolo wine. We couldn’t believe our luck the following day when, while roaming the Alba hills, we ran into a local truffle hunter who sold us some white truffles that his little dog had just dug out of the ground. Continue reading ‘How to cook with truffles’

How to roast a duck, the slow and tender way

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Go to the recipe for Christmas duck

Let’s talk turkey. Actually let’s talk about something else this Christmas. Let’s talk turkey alternatives.

This is a first for Crash Test Kitchen. We’ve never done a Christmas episode before. So we thought we’d focus on two of the basic elements you want on your table: crispy roast potatoes and a lovely bird.

But instead of turkey, we’ve chosen duck. Continue reading ‘How to roast a duck, the slow and tender way’

Crème caramel: from one flan to another

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Go to the recipe for crème caramel

If you want a dessert that combines simplicity and wow factor, this has got to be it – crème caramel or flan, either vanilla or au café (the latter, “with coffee”, tends to be preferred in France).

Sure you’ve got to make caramel and custard. But neither could be easier. While a careful eye is needed to get the caramel just right, if you cut and run a bit early it will probably just mean that it’s a lighter colour.

And the custard is not your fraught stove-hovering kind, where you’ve got to heat and whisk over the burner for ages while engaging in some minor bacteriological warfare until the consistency and temperature hit their alchemy point. Nope, as far as custard goes this is really a straightforward heat-and-mix job. Continue reading ‘Crème caramel: from one flan to another’

Duck a l’orange

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Go to the recipe (duck breasts)
Go to the recipe (whole duck)

When I found whole duck on sale at our local supermarket, I got very excited. And I remembered that we had an episode up our sleeve not yet launched on the wider Crash Test Kitchen viewing public.

Friends and family were coming over for dinner this week and I had planned to do a simple roast chicken – but I had never cooked a whole duck before, and I want to have one next Christmas. So this would be the trial run.

It might be a tad retro, but duck a l’orange remains synonymous with birds that swim. A while back we did a show for the Word of Mouth blog that involved duck breasts and a recipe by Stefan Reynaud. Recipe-wise, what I’ll detail here is how we did the breasts-only version shown in the video, and how I handled the whole bird – a Gressingham duck in our case. Continue reading ‘Duck a l’orange’

Partridges with bread sauce


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Autumn is game season, and in years past I’ve indulged in wild meaty delights such as pheasant and woodcock (I think it was). I’ve fantasised about getting out in the woods with my wellies and peacoat, dogs yapping along the muddy tracks while I take a few shots at the woodland foul as the beaters scare them out of the brush. But I never really thought it would happen.

And it didn’t, exactly. But this did: our friend Richard was lucky enough to be taken on a game shoot recently and, lucky for us, his kitchen was being refurbished at the time, so we ended up with two lovely, bright-eyed fresh partridges trussed up in a plastic bag to do with what we would.

Continue reading ‘Partridges with bread sauce’

Stock while-u-don’t-wait


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Making stock is easy enough – bones, vegetables, herbs, seasoning, then simmer simmer simmer. For a long, long time. And therein lies the problem – can you afford to be housebound for eight hours or so while you wait for all that boney, marrowy, veggie goodness to leach out?

We’ve heard some people talk about making stock in a pressure cooker. You can cut the cooking time down to an hour and a half, maybe less, which should fit in nicely with your TV watching. But do you have a pressure cooker? No, neither do we. But we do have a slow cooker, or crock pot, as featured in our last episode. In this latest instalment of our Adventures in Slow Cooking we find another way to put it to good use. Continue reading ‘Stock while-u-don’t-wait’

Project Benedict


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You’ve had eggs benedict – but what about eggs benedict on a fresh, home-made muffin with handcrafted hollandaise sauce? And what if your hollandaise “splits” in the middle of the cooking process? Can it be retrieved, or should you bin it and start again?

These and other questions answered in this marathon episode.

Strictly speaking, eggs benny is made with ham, but in our experience smoked salmon has become synonymous with the dish. Continue reading ‘Project Benedict’

Your momo says …


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Waz and I LOVE dumplings. Pretty much wherever we travel, we try to experience the local yum cha – or dim sum as it’s called throughout much of the world. So we often find ourselves traipsing through Chinatown in various far-flung cities sampling the lovely little morsels in their steaming wooden baskets that make up the dim sum experience.

London has a surprisingly small Chinatown, and, sad to say, we’ve had some very dodgy yum cha on Gerrard Street, which is this Chinatown’s main drag. I would say the variety and quality of dishes is better in such establishments as China House and King of Kings in Brisneyland (that’s Brisbane in Queensland for you non-locals). Even good old Edmonton in Canada had some very fine dim sum establishments. Continue reading ‘Your momo says …’

Perfect Steak … in Time for Christmas


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People of the Year! Yep, that’s us in Time magazine’s special issue, which awarded the Person of the Year title to “You”, meaning independent content creators like us who post video, audio, photos and what-not to the web.

It all started when Time contacted us a few weeks ago for an interview. They hinted that a photo might be needed, but when we left for our Christmas holidays in Australia and they had not been back in touch we assumed the photo call wasn’t going ahead. When we touched down in Brisbane we turned on our mobile phone and there was a frantic message from Time in Sydney saying “Where are you? We need a photo!” We arranged to meet the photographer, Paul Blackmore, on the Gold Coast and did one shoot in our friend Angie’s kitchen, and another around at her mum’s place. Continue reading ‘Perfect Steak … in Time for Christmas’