I’ve long been a fan of pastéis de nata, the Portuguese custard tart with crisp pastry and sweet eggy filling, ever since I discovered Lisboa Patisserie on London’s Golborne Road. There is nothing better to have with a strong espresso. It’s pastry that has travelled the world courtesy of Portuguese colonisation or sailing routes, as popular in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan as it is in Portugal. It does vary though, sometimes the pastry is short crust rather than puff pastry, sometimes the egg has the dark caramelised exterior from the hot oven, at other times it is glossy and plain. I’ve used a bought butter puff pastry here, and have found that it is difficult to get that scorched top in my oven when using muffin tins, however they are still delectable without it, especially when the custard is infused with lemongrass. These are best eaten on the day they are made either warm or cold. However all the components can be prepared the day ahead.
Recipe Category: Ginny Grant Issue 196
Laksa is a dish that has variations throughout southeast Asia from Indonesia through to Thailand. Chicken is often added to the mix, as are fresh prawns; asparagus isn’t traditional but I like to add it when in season. Make large batches of both the sambal and the laksa paste then refrigerate or freeze. If you can’t find candlenuts use macadamias or a few Brazil nuts.
The French influence in this beef casserole is readily apparent; take a classic pot au feu and flavour it with Vietnamese spices and herbs. Black cardamom is not essential but it does add a smoky, astringent element to the stew. This can also be a made-ahead dish and one that improves on sitting for a day or so before eating.
Simple and superb (the mix can be made a day ahead), these are great to fry or even better to grill. I prefer them with pork, but chicken would also work well here. I like to serve with a simple hoisin and lime sauce, but they are also good with a nuoc cham or peanut sauce. I tend to use frozen stems for the skewers – the freezing softens the fibres and they are less likely to burn on the grill.
This light soup is perfect for lunch or dinner on a cooler day. Feel free to remove the aromatics from the stock before serving, but don’t omit the galangal from the recipe as it adds a lemony and slightly camphorous flavour to the soup. It can be hard to find fresh, so I usually buy it frozen and bring out a piece as I need it.