Very quick Chinese: Beef Stir Fry

quick beef stir fry by felix cesare.jpg

Quick, so quick chinese stir fry, literally a home made take out.

‘a meal with an oriental influence is a welcome change once in a while.  This is the quickest Chinese style dish you can possibly prepare and believe me it does not taste any different to a take out.  For the best result I cut up the beef into very small pieces and cook it well before adding the other ingredients. Broccoli is abundant at the moment with nearly give-away prices in the market this week.’

For my quick Chinese style beef stir fry you will need:
1 tablespoon canola oil
500g  chopped beef (ask your butcher for a suitable cut for your stir fry)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 small cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup stock
1/2 head broccoli broken up into florets, lightly steamed
150g mushrooms

Mix together the soy sauce, cornflour, honey until the cornflour dissolves. Cut the beef into small strips. In a large saucepan heat up the oil
in a large pan and cook the beef strips well until they start to brown. Then lower the heat, add the garlic, ginger, chili flakes if you are using it. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add half the cooked mushrooms, cook for a minute then add the cornflour mix followed by the stock. Stir on low heat until it starts to thicken. If it is too thick add 2 tablespoons of water at a time until it is the right consistency. Then add the steamed broccoli and the rest of the mushrooms.
I served ours with steamed pak choi and rice. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil before serving.
quick chinese stir fry felix

Spinach and Orange Curry

This week’s paper


We had a simple supper tonight, a quick and easy meal but it was delicious. I was inspired this afternoon when I visited a friend’s Indian Restaurant to make naan bread with the indian cooks. One of them was from Mumbai and the other from Kerala…what a long way from home but these boys have adapted well and can even speak a bit of the language !


I came back home and I used frozen spinach tonight; this is really a store cupboard dish which you can whizz up in under 10 minutes.


You will need :
500 g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 orange, rind grated and juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
250 ml Yoghurt, i use the local one
2 spoons simgle cream
sea salt
1/3 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh coriander, finely chopped.
150 ml water
1 teaspoon oil


Lightly fry the onion and garlic in the oil. I use a non stick pan. Add all the spices and ginger and cook and stir for a minite. Add the spinach, stir and then add the water and orange juice. Stir and bring to boil. Lower heat and add the yoghurt and a quarter of the orange zest and stir for half a minute, then add the cream and finely chopped coriander and cook for another half a minute. Turn off heat. Leave covered for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with half the orange rind. This can be reheated the next day and it is usually even more delicious as the flavor in the spices improves.

I served ours tonight with some fluffy couscous with fresh finely chopped coriander and half the grated orange rind. You can also do the same with basmati rice.

And this is the finished naan in the restaurant


Filipino Chicken Pancit


Filipino Chicken Pancit, Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘This is Ving’s recipe, an excellent cook and we were lucky to eat her food for many years. Her pancit she made was excellent and her secret was to add finely shredded uncooked cabbage to the noodles just before serving them. The cabbage blends in with the noodles and the contrast in texture makes the dish amazing. This is one of my favorite meals and today’s recipe is a very simple and fast everyday meal.’

You will need :

1 packet Rice noodles
Water for cooking the noodles, a piece of fresh ginger, fresh turmeric and a few cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cabbage, very finely shredded
2 carrots cut into batons [on tv today I used a spiraliser and mixed the carrot noodles with the rice noodles
2 handfuls fresh green beans cut diagonally
Around 3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon of freshly minced ginger
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Fresh coriander, chopped

Boil some water in a large pot and add some garlic cloves, a stock cube, ginger and turmeric. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
Immerse the rice noodles in boiling water. I simply leave them to immerse in water until they soften with the heat turned off. This way you will never have soggy noodles. As soon as they soften, drain the water, leave in the collandar and drizzle some sesame oil. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir and add the chicken pieces. Add the green beans and carrots. Stir and cook through lightly. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and stir. Remove from heat. Add the shredded cabbage, stir and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Such a simple, quick and delicious dish, beats going to eat out. Remember to try it with uncooked cabbage and if you are vegetarian simply swap 2 cups chicken with 2 cups of your favorite vegetables.

I use sunflower oil by 3 Leaves at J Calleja Ltd and my fresh vegetables and herbs for today’s tv show come from Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola

A quick weekday meal…. Thai Som Tum Salad with roasted peanuts


Mid-week rush and always too much to do. I make this salad very often and I always pick the ingredients for it when I visit Mr Wang’s to stock up my store cupboard. If the ‘not yet ripe’ green papaya is unavailable you can replace it with swede but I am able to use the real thing.

This salad is light with a blend of real thai flavors, the sweet, the salty with the added sourness from the lime however I am using a green local lemon today as our citrus trees are still heavy with fruit and if you have to buy them, a fraction of the price of limes with the same result. This is a perfect lunch produced in 10 minutes and I could easily have it every day. Most important is the freshness of ingredients.


For two portions, you will need :

Juice of 1/2 lime
2 spoons fish sauce
5 spoons Soy Sauce
1 Garlic clove
2 cups Green papaya, shredded
1 cup green beans, shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrot
6 Cherry tomatoes
Chilies, 2 or less if you do not like it so hot
Cilantro, handful
1 teaspoon carob syrup or you can use Palm Sugar or 1 teaspoon normal sugar
2 tablespoons pan roasted peanuts

Dry roast a handful of peanuts in a very hot pan stirring for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and put into another container as they will keep browning in the hot pan.
Peel the papaya, shred it into thin strips.
Trim the green beans and carrots and cut into thin strips.
Bash the chilies and peeled garlic with a mortar and pestle until they become a textured paste. Do not purée. Add the carob syrup or sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce.
In a large bowl mix all the vegetables and toss with some turn up cilantro leaves.
Serve in a large bowl, pour the dressing, toss again, garnish with a few more cilantro leaves and the peanuts which you can crush if you prefer. We like ours whole and crunchy …

And I leave you with a local flavor and a photo I took of a poem I found under an old carob tree during my walk in the open countryside …. I find carob syrup compliments Asian flavors when a sweetener is required…


Quick and easy sticky chilli ribs


I find with this marinade that you do not need to leave it overnight, if you have forgotten to prepare something for tonight or are not organized enough, two hours with this one is enough to bring out all the delicious flavors.I serve this with a huge dish of egg fried rice to satisfy all those hungry appetites and extra baked potatoes, especially a big hit with the boys

You will need:

For the marinade: mix all these ingredients together
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, optional
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 racks park spare ribs, serves 2 to 4 persons depending on appetites.

Coat and cover the pork ribs, cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours.

Cook in a very hot oven at 200 C for 45 minutes to an hour and baste and turn over often.


And for the special fried rice, all you need to do is cook the quantity of rice according to the instructions on your pack.
Finely chop up some onion and garlic, quantity according to your taste.
I always add sweet corn, chopped mushrooms and a chopped up omelette.
And any other ingredient that takes your fancy that is in your fridge or store cupboard.
Stir fry the onion and garlic. Ad the rice and other ingredients leaving the omelette to add last.
Some soy sauce and another stir.
And it’s ready to serve

A unique tart with Jujube and Mediterranean Pomegranate…


In the garden is a very rare tree producing very rare mahogany roundish fruits.

Unlike the date though, the fresh crispy ones taste even better than the soft crinkly fruit when it ripens.

How can I describe the flavor? It is like eating the best tasting apple with a caramel undertone. This is the jujube, the Korean, Chinese or Indian date …. a pop-in-the-mouth morsel full of flavor.
A very unusual fruit and quite delicious, yet I find I am unable to eat too many…. In Texas Jujube has become very trendy recently and is being cultivated and sold as a dried health food.

I wish to create a recipe using jujube as an ingredient. I have a good think about it as the fruit is so scarce and I only have the chance of a small bowlful to experiment with. I decide to leave the jujube in its natural state, as it is straight from the tree onto the tart. No additives, no processing or cooking just the freshest of ingredients, as nature meant them to be.

This tart is unique. I do not mean to sound big headed but I am merely admiring the combination of the fruit and the beauty of its raw state. I stand back and admire the simplicity like one does at an art gallery. A mix of fresh crispy jujube with riper wrinkly ones on a bed of rose colored pomegranate jewels, speckled with the freshest of mint still alive on the tree an hour ago. I had the pleasure of cutting the mint and fruit in the garden and within hours, here it is in a delicious tart on a silver platter being served to guests for tea ……. a precious tart because of its uniqueness. I came across another recipe that looks wonderful too. Vietnamese Jacqueline Pham author of Banh Mi who was born and raised in Paris, makes a Jujube Tart with Walnut Cream and she has planted a few trees in her garden in San Francisco.

If you are not fortunate enough to live on the paradise island in the heart of the Mediterranean or in Florida and California where jujube also grows, and of course you can be lucky to be in Korea, China and India where it still thrives, then you can make this tart by using pomegranate only.


You will need :

For the crust

10 tart dish with a loose bottom, this recipe is for two tarts

650g flour
400 g butter
200g sugar
1 egg
65 ml water

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer. Mix together the eggs and water. Gradually add the beaten eggs and water.
Add flour and beat in.
This pastry does not need to rest and can be used straightaway ! It is also best used on the day it’s made rather than storing it in the freezer or fridge.
Dust your work surface with flour and knead the pastry lightly dusting with extra flour. This pastry has a wonderful satiny feel and is lovely to work with.
Roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 5mm.
Neatly cover the bottom of the tart dish. This pastry is rich in butter and you will not need to grease the tart dish.
Bake Blind and check out my easy method for doing this.

For the creme patissiere
500 ml milk
200g sugar
5 egg yolks
40g flour
Vanilla extract, as little as possible, just a hint of flavor

Bring the milk to a boil, add the vanilla and in the meantime whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and thick. Then stir in the sifted flour and keep whisking over medium heat to ensure that you do not have any lumps. Continue to cook until you see the first sign of a boil. Remove from heat and keep stirring. If you have lumps, do not panic, simply pass it though a sieve.

For the fruit topping

12 – 15 jujube berries, destined and cut in half
4 peeled pomegranates
Apricot jam to glaze or you can use a prepared tart glaze
Fresh mint leaves, torn up and some whole small ones.

To assemble, pour the creme patissiere while it is still warm into a cooled down tart crust. Leave for a couple of minutes and while it is still warm arrange the pomegranates and jujube over the top.
Glaze with warm apricot jam using a soft brush or use a tart glaze and follow the instructions.

Scatter some torn up fresh mint leaves.

Beating the egg yolks for the creme patisserie

The creme patisserie, a smooth consistency

Filling the tart shell with the creme patisserie

Arranging the fruit in the tart shell

Brushing on the glaze

Nearly ready !

Finishing off the tarts with Joseph


And a sprinkle of fresh mint….


So vibrant, so unique …

A lovely bright sunny day in October !

And yesterday’s newspaper