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Chinese tofu pancakes

Traditionally served with crispy duck, this pancakes make a great vegan dish as well. Thick hoisin sauce and fresh cucumber and spring onions go great with fried tofu. Perfect snack for a small gathering.

Recipe: Chinese tofu pancakes

Ingredients
  • 200 g firm tofu
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, cut into matchsticks
  • a few branches fresh coriander
  • 1/4 red chilli pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 10 thin pancakes
Method
  • Slice tofu and combine with 3 tbsp of hoisin sauce.
  • Fry tofu slices on heated sesame oil, about one minute each side.
  • Steam the pancakes and keep them warm in a bamboo steamer or covered with foil.
  • Arrange fried tofu, cucumber and spring onion stick, coriander leaves, chilli and hoisin sauce on the table and allow everyone to help themselves.
  • Spread some sauce on each pancake and top with tofu, cucumber and spring onions. Sprinkle with coriander and chilli and roll up.

Recipe: Homemade hoisin sauce

Ingredients
  • 7-8 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp sesame oil
  • one tsp finely chopped chilli
  • one garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small pot.
  • Simmer over low heat, stirring, until well combined.
  • Set aside to cool.

Vegan taco buffet

Perfect tacos: crispy, aromatic, colourful and vegan. Great for small or larger gatherings. All you have to do is prepare the toppings and ask your guests to compose their ideal snacks. I chose roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and corn, creamy cashew paste, pomegranate seeds, fresh chillies, aromatic coriander and lime juice. You can add your favourite fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Recipe: Vegan tacos

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 soft corn tortillas
  • a bunch coriander
  • one corn on a cob
  • one cup cooked black beans
  • rosted sweet potatoes (recipe below)
  • cashew paste (recipe below)
  • 2 green chilli peppers
  • 1 small pomegranate
  • 1 lime
Method
  • Roast the corn at 180C for about 30 minutes, until tender.
  • Kut off the kernels and combine with cooked beans.
  • Deseed the pomegranate, slice the chillies and cut the lime into quarters.
  • Heat the tortillas in the oven or on a pan and cover to keep them warm.
  • Serve all the ingredients together and let everyone compose their own tacos: roasted sweet potatoes with pomegranate and fresh coriander or corn and beans with cashew paste and fresh chillies. Or everything altogether :)

Recipe: Roasted sweet potatoes

Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • one tbsp olive oil
  • one tsp smoked paprika powder
  • one tsp sweet paprika powder
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Peel and dice the potatoes.
  • Cut the onion into eitghts.
  • Mix diced potatoes with onion, olive and spices.
  • Transfer into a baking dish and roast at 180C for about 30 minutes.

Recipe: Cashew paste

Ingredients
  • 100 g cashews, soaked overnight
  • 2 tbsp plant-based milk (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 lime (peel and juice)
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Blend soaked chashews with milk, to make a smooth paste.
  • Add lime juice and peel, combine. Season with salt
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Ceviche

I love ceviche: it's delicious and full of flavour, beautiful and super easy to make. It probably derives from Peru, but is popular in many coastal regions of South America. The dish is made from fresh fish, cured in leche de tigre - a marinade made of citrus juices with coriander, chilli and onions.

Citric acid from limes or lemons cooks the fish. I like my ceviche semi-cooked and raw inside, so I usually leave the fish in the marinade for 15-20 minutes. If you're not a fan of raw fish, you can leave it to marinate for a few hours. Some chefs think the best marinating time for ceviche is as short as 2-3 minutes.

I have prepared two recipes - a very basic tuna ceviche and a sea bass ceviche with coconut milk and roasted sweet potato. There's plenty of room for experiments: modify the marinade adding juice from different citrus fruits, use various kinds of fish and seafood or play with the toppings, trying avocado, corn, grapefruit or pomegranate seeds. Make sure to use very fresh, good quality fish.

Recipe: Tuna ceviche

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 300 g fresh tuna steak, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • one garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
  • a few coriander leaves
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Place the tuna in a bowl, add salt, combine and set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Combine lime juice with ginger, coriander, garlic and chilli.
  • Pour the marinade over tuna, delicately toss together and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Before serving, combine with red onion and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or tortilla chips.

Recipe: Sea bass ceviche

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 300 g fresh sea bass, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3-4 tsp coconut milk
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
  • one small sweet potato, roasted and diced
  • a few coriander leaves
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Place the sea bass in a bowl, add salt, combine and set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Combine lime juice with coconut milk, ginger, coriander and chilli.
  • Pour the marinade over the fish, delicately toss together and set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Before serving, combine with red onion, roasted sweet potato and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or tortilla chips.

Oysters with mignonette sauce

Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?

I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.

Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.

Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauce

Serves: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
Ingredients
  • 6 fresh oysters
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • one tsp frehs thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Shuck the oysters and place on ice.
  • Serve with mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.

Victoria sponge cake

The Victoria sponge was name after Queen Victoria, who enjoyed a slice of cake with her afternoon tea. It is still one of the most popular cakes in the UK. The traditional version consists of two sponges, layered with whipped cream and raspberry or strawberry preserve. If you top it up with some seasonal fruit and serve with a glass of champagne instead of a cup of tea, it truly becomes a royal dessert. You can increase the number of sponges (I made four) to make it even more queenly. Multi-storey Victoria sponge is a frequent guest at British weddings.

Recipe: Summer Victoria Sponge Cake

Ingredients
  • 400 g flour
  • 200 g sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 400 g soft butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp milk
Method
  • You will need two baking tins: 20cm and 18cm.
  • Obviously, if you happen to have four tin, that's even better.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Line both tins with parchment paper.
  • Mix half of the ingredients to makea soft, smooth batter.
  • Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface with a spoon.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  • Having removed the sponges from the tins, repeat everything.
  • You should end up with two larger and two smaller sponges.
  • Arrange the sponges on top of each other, adding layers of whipped cream and strawberry preserve in-between.
  • Top with seasonal fruit.
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