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This well loved restaurant dish has its origins in Chinese cuisine and is now an integral part of our Sino-Mauritian heritage. Chicken chop suey or chop soy is the staple offering on the menu of any plush, 5-star restaurant or as one of the bestselling street food in any local snack where it is served stuffed in warm demi baguettes or as topping over a bowl of boiled noodles or basmati rice. There probably exist as many recipes for chop suey as there are eateries serving it all over Mauritius and then there are carefully guarded family recipes handed over generations but you will be surprised [and probably happy!] to know that you can make this quick dish from no recipe at all. To add to the beauty of it, you can simply throw in any vegetable you have on hand and it will still turn out as awesome burst of colours and flavors, a true feast for your eyes and taste buds.

CHICKEN CHOP SUEY

Ingredients:

100g dehydrated mushrooms

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 small onions, sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

200g chicken breasts, cubed

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

50g canned bamboo shoots

1/4 cup sweet corn kernels

1 small red pepper, diced

1 small yellow pepper, diced

200g pak choy/ brède tom pouce

1 small bunch spring onion

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn flour

4 tablespoons cold water

Method:

  • Cut off the stems of the dehydrated mushrooms and soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes.

  • In a large frying pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry the onion slices until they are translucent.

  • Add the garlic and chicken pieces and cook for about 10 minutes till chicken is done. Set this aside.

  • Add carrot, corn and bamboo shoots to frying pan along with 1/2 cup water. Cook it for 5 minutes.

  • Add chicken and diced peppers and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring the mixture once or twice.

  • Combine oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and water in a small bowl and dissolve the corn flour into it.

  • Add the pak choy and spring onions to the chicken, cook for one minute until the leaves are wilted.

  • Finally add the sauce preparation and let cook for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thickened.

  • If it is too thick, add some water to reach desired consistency. Serve chop suey warm with baguette.

Chicken Chop Suey

This is the carrot cake recipe I always make when baking for a crowd. The recipe, slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, is absolutely fail-proof and has even won me a local baking competition in the past. However if you have no patience to get all those carrots peeled and grated by hand, you can always turn to your food processor. I personally feel that the manual effort pays off so feel free to enlist volunteers. I’m sure they will be only too happy to help if you promise to reward them with a share of cupcakes for their handiwork/enthusiasm.

CARROT CUPCAKES WITH MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients:

For the Carrot Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups grated peeled carrots

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm water

For The Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

225g cream cheese, softened

50g unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/8 cup pure maple syrup

For The Almond Paste Carrots

3/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon golden syrup

Green and orange food colour

Method:

  • For the mini almond paste carrots, combine all ingredients until it forms soft, pliable dough.
  • Pinch off a small blob and tint with green food colour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

  • Tint the remaining dough orange to match the colour of carrots and wrap it well in cling film.
  • Shape into small carrots and leave to set on a baking sheet. Do not refrigerate shaped carrots.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake molds with paper cups, or butter and flour them.
  • Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl to blend.

  • Whisk the sugar and oil in large bowl until they are well blended. Whisk in eggs one at a time.
  • Add the flour mixture and stir it until blended. Stir in the grated carrots, walnuts and raisins.

  • Divide the batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each. Bake cupcakes for 14-18 minutes.
  • A tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for five minutes.

  • Then transfer the cupcakes to cooling rack. Let them cool completely on the rack before icing.
  • For the frosting, beat all ingredients on medium speed until mixture is fluffy in a stand mixer.

  • Chill frosting for 10- 20 minutes in refrigerator until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
  • Pipe onto cakes using a large star tip and top each with an almond paste carrot. Makes 12-14.

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Lisa Cifelli, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen [originally The Daring Bakers] passed away unexpectedly this November. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lis, understands how much she will be missed. Her big heart, incredible sense of humor, epic emails, and mad organization skills were legendary. I would like to thank Kelly for creating this event through which I would like to pay tribute to Lis, our Daring Bakers queen, by baking a special something in her memory. I thought it would be best to select a recipe from her own blog, La Mia Cucina, which she kept active with her witty posts till 2010.

Her “Best Ever” carrot cake was my final choice but it took me a long time to make up my mind from the list of delicious sounding desserts on her recipe index. Though I never met her personally, my first and only contact with Lis was the time when I asked to be a Daring Bakers host and she graciously replied that she could have me for the September 2014 challenge. “I’m always around if you need me for anything.. questions, help, etc.” was the closing line of that very exciting email I received some months ago.

Indeed, Lis has always been there to introduce us to our monthly challenges, to answer our queries and to ensure the smooth running of our baking community. Her sudden departure will leave a huge void in our midst and she will be sorely missed by all of us who saw in her a talented baker, a genuine friend and a warm and caring human being. My sincere condolences go to her family and loved ones and may she rest in peace forever.

LIS’S BEST CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Carrot Cake

6 cups grated carrots

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup raisins, soaked

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp table salt

4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two 10-inch cake pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light.

  • Gradually beat in white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in pineapple. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  • Stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and walnuts. Pour into prepared pans.

  • Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the centre of the cakes.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

  • For the cream cheese frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy in a medium bowl.
  • Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Sandwich the cakes together with frosting.

  • Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over the sandwiched cakes and smooth out with an offset spatula.
  • Decorate the frosted cake with chopped nuts or carrot shaped candy if desired. Makes 10-12 generous servings.

Rest in Peace, Lis

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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