Posts Tagged ‘new you’

Chinese Cooking School – How to turn an apple into a swan

January 15, 2009

Lisa’s love of cooking and of the creative process of her art keeps her always interested in giving demonstrations and teaching others. Lisa is the head chef of Sweet Mandarin and teaches fruit origami in her cooking series taught at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cooking School.

Mr Drake's swan (I'm very impressed with all my students and I bet your friends and family will be impressed too!)

Mr Drake's swan (I'm very impressed with all my students and I bet your friends and family will be impressed too!)

Mr Drake having a go at fruit origami at Sweet Mandarin's Chinese Cookery School (Mr Drake made a superb swan)
Mr Drake having a go at fruit origami at Sweet Mandarin’s Chinese Cookery School (Mr Drake made a superb swan)
More students learning the secrets of fruit origami with Lisa Tse's easy to follow instructions
More students learning the secrets of fruit origami with Lisa Tse’s easy to follow instructions
Students at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cooking School learning how to carve fruit origami
Students at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cooking School learning how to carve fruit origami

Have you ever wanted to create an amazing centre piece for a dish or for a birthday cake?  Lisa, the head chef and teacher at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cooking School is always creating new dishes and presentational displays, which she shares with her students. Lisa has represented the Sweet Mandarin Cooking School in the Caribbean, across the United Kingdom and in China and has recently been nominated by Hi-Life Diners 2009 in the Best Manchester Restaurant category. Lisa’s passion is teaching her students – adults and the youth how to carve amazing fruit origami – turning a cucumber into a cute frog, turning carrots into ornamental flowers and turning an apple into a breath-taking swan. Lisa teaches cooking schools and home economics the art of dim sum and fruit origami and has been giving demonstrations at local fairs, exhibitions and events in conjunction with local Governmental programmes and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

 Lisa has developed a special way of teaching this ancient art of fruit and vegetable carving based on her understanding of the particular problems students of all ages have when they begin to work with their knife. She believes that learning to carve fruit and vegetables info beautiful flowers and other forms is not difficult; but one must first understand the concept behind the basic forms and second, learn to use the knife correctly to cut away one part and leave the other parts.

For more information on how to book your place at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School go to


Chinese Cookery School “I love Chinese food even more now!”

January 15, 2009
Mr Drake is on the right with his bowl of Chicken and Sweetcorn soup which he made himself at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School

Mr Drake is on the right with his bowl of Chicken and Sweetcorn soup which he made himself at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School


Mr Drake mastering the woks at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School

Mr Drake is an excellent chef and we had a lot of fun exchanging cooking tips!  He told me he loves Chinese and Thai cuisine, but after the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, Mr Drake “Loves Chinese food even more now!”  Mr Drake learnt how to cook 6 suppers on a fixed budget, spicing up the dishes for dinner. What did you think Mr Drake? The response, “Excellent! Maybe I can open my own restaurant ?” replied Mr Drake chuckling as he tasted his Chicken and Sweetcorn soup “Not bad if I say so myself. Tastes like the real thing!” I’m looking forward that dinner invite Mr Drake! 

Best Wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family


Book your place on our Chinese Cookery School – Email: or call Lisa Tse 0161 832 8848

For more information see

Availability: January is full. We have availability from February 2009 – every Saturday morning at Sweet Mandarin

Address:  Sweet Mandarin 19 Copperas Street, Design House, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1HS

Patrick Swayze – A Fighter Against Cancer – A Dish to Remember (Thanks Mum)

January 7, 2009

patrick-swayzeRemember Your First dance. Your First love. The time of your life. And that famous phrase “No-one puts baby in a corner”?  Heart-throb, actor Patrick Swayze, the Dirty Dancing star has told of his fear as he battles pancreatic cancer.

“Yeah, I’m scared. Yeah, I’m angry. Yeah, I’m (asking), ‘Why me? You can bet that I’m going through hell, and I’ve only seen the beginning of it.”

But the Dirty Dancing star said he would beat the cancer: “Watch me! You watch what I pull off!”

Patrick, you were my hero during my teenage years when I sprouted an afro perm, pastel huge glasses and a tracksuit. I will be praying for you and writing a series of recipes to help you battle cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumour of the pancreas.  Each year in America, about 37,680 individuals are diagnosed with this condition and 34,290 die from the disease. In Europe more than 60,000 are diagnosed each year.



The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn’t a single element in a particular food that does all the work. The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer cell growth or reduce tumour size.



The recipe I want to share with you today is one of our rustic home cooked favourites – Tomato Soup – also helps you to dethaw as we approach -10 degrees celcius in freezing Manchester. (Don’t forget if you don’t want to venture out, we do home deliveries – order online

Tomato Soup

Why Tomato Soup Is Good:

Canned tomato soup provides a concentration of vitamins C, K and A, along with the antioxidant lycopene, found to be protective against a growing list of cancers including colon, breast, lung and pancreatic cancer.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidantthat attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, red peppers also contain thsese substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes. Scientists in Isreal have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer.

Why Red Tomatoes Are Green:

Organic tomatoes (even canned ones) are the greener choice when making soup. These tomatoes are grown on healthy soil without the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, toxic runoff and using agricultural practices that help sustain the land for future generations.

Mum’s Tomato Soup

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans organic crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup cream or milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Heat the butter and the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook, sweating the juicy goodness from this base and continuously stir for 3 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, about 35 to 40 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken.

2.  Cool the soup to room temperature (if in a hurry add four ice cubes). Process the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Pulse until soup is pureed. Return to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream/milk and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 10 Firecracker Chicken (To Celebrate Chinese New Year) – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 5, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2209This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on


Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family


This final sample dish is to celebrate Chinese New Year….and is a great addition for your diet in 2009 towards a New You


Firecracker Chicken

250g skinless Chicken breast fillet
50g peeled water chestnuts
50g peeled and chopped onions
50g peeled and cubed carrots
50g unsalted peanuts

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon cornflour
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (white)
30ml chicken stock

Method to Cook:

1.Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl.
2. Cut the onions into dices. Place into a bowl
3. Blanch waterchesnuts in a pan of boiling water then refresh in cold water. Drain. pat dry and cut into thin slice. Alternative is to buy tin sliced waterchestnuts. Separate pan do the same for carrots.
4. Heat wok over high heat
5. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and heat until hot and smoky.
6. Stir-fry the chicken turning constantly until the meat is cooked.
7. Add in the ginger, garlic, chilli sauce, for 10 seconds
8. Add in the onions, waterchestnuts and carrots for 15 seconds
9. Combine the sugar, chicken stock, soy sauce, sesma oil and cornflour – add to thicken.
10. Add the peanuts and toss lightly to coat the sauce.
11. Transfer to a plate and serve hot

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 8 The Chicken Stock to Warm Your Heart – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 5, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2207This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on


Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family




Makes about 10 cups.



           3 pounds chicken pieces (backs, necks, or wings)

           12 cups cold water

           3 slices fresh ginger

           Salt, to taste


Rinse the chicken pieces under running water. Place in a large pot with 12 cups water (or enough to cover).

Add the ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, occasionally skimming off the foam that rises to the top.

Add salt to taste.

Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.


Chicken Stock is simple to prepare, relatively cheap, nutritious, and easily digested. Chicken stock can be used as a soup is a good food for winter convalescents. Sipping warm soup can also clear the sinuses because of the steam ventilating into the nasal passages, serving as a natural decongestant, which also relieves cold and flu symptoms. Last, but not least, scientists found that the particular blend of nutrients and vitamins in traditional chicken soup can slow the activity of certain white blood cells. This may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness.

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 3 Egg Drop Soup – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2203This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family





The basic recipe for Egg Drop Soup (also called Egg Flower Soup) is very simple; I’ve included a few variations below. Serves 3 to 4.

Traditionally, the broth for Egg Drop Soup is rather bland, allowing the egg flavor to stand out.



           4 cups chicken broth or stock

           2 eggs, lightly beaten

           1 -2 spring onions finely sliced

           Salt to taste

           A few drops of sesame oil (optional)


In a wok or saucepan, bring the 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add the salt, and the sesame oil if using. Cook for about another minute.

Very slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a steady stream.

To make shreds, stir the egg rapidly in a clockwise direction for one minute. To make thin streams or ribbons, gently stir the eggs in a clockwise direction until they form.

  Garnish with spring onion and serve.


Nutritional Breakdown – 4 servings

Each serving contains: Calories 81, 2 g Carbohydrates, 8 g Protein, 4 g Total Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 106 mg Cholesterol, trace Fibre, 866 mg Sodium


Egg Drop Soup Variations

These would be added after the seasonings. After adding, let the soup cook for a few more minutes and then add the beaten egg.

**1/2 cup frozen peas (defrosted).

**1/2 cup sweetcorn and finely diced chicken breast meat (cooked) – this makes Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup.

**If you are preparing the soup for someone who is ill, try adding a slice of fresh, grated ginger. Among its many benefits, ginger is believed to be helpful in treating colds and flue.


Egg Drop Soup is frequently thickened with cornstarch in restaurants. To add a cornstarch thickener, mix 2 – 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Just before adding the beaten egg, stir in the cornstarch/water mixture, remove the soup from the heat, and then add the beaten egg.


Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No.2 Garlic Butter Steamed Fish – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2202This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family





Serves 3 – 4



           4 fish fillets, about 4 – 6 ounces each

           2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

           1/4 teaspoon salt

           2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

           2 tablespoons butter



Prepare the wok for steaming. Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Cover and steam the fish over high heat until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork (10 – 15 minutes). 

Separately, in a small pan, melt the butter, adding the chopped garlic and salt –mix until garlic goes golden brown. Take off the heat.

Place the fish fillets on a deep, heat-proof plate that will fit inside the steamer basket. Pour the garlic butter mixture over the fish.

Serve hot with steamed leafy greens.


Nutritional Breakdown for Steamed Fish (based on 4 servings of 6 ounces fish each) Each serving contains: Calories 157, 3 g Carbohydrates, 31 g Protein, 2 g Total Fat, 73 mg Cholesterol, trace dietary Fibre, 232 mg Sodium, 774 mg Potassium.


Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer. Garlic is also useful to treat a common cold, and help regulate blood levels


Butter in moderation is allowed.

Recipes to Help Oprah and You Lose Weight – From the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 3, 2009


Four years ago, when Oprah managed to get down to a trim and fit 160 pounds, she thought she’d hit on a foolproof formula for permanent weight loss. Then life—in the form of a thyroid problem and a killer schedule—intervened. Last year she was back up to the 200-pound mark and knew something had to change.

Its not just Oprah whose battling with the additional pounds, I’ve met so many people who have asked me to help them lose weight. End the starve – binge cycle. Eat healthy, feel healthy and be healthier.

Especially after the Christmas season, all those eat-all-you-can buffet parties, the alcohol, the snacking in front of the tv make one feel bloated and struggling to fit into your new clothes.

You are overweight for the most simple of reasons — because you’re eating the wrong foods, the wrong types of calories per meal, and you’re also eating meals in the wrong patterns each day.

My next blogs will set out my recipes to help Oprah and you lose that excess weight – and balance your ying and yang.  Most overweight people are yang (warm) types. So the kinds of food that should constitute the bulk of ones diet should be ying type of foods (see my earlier blog on what are ying and yang foods).

Wishing you best wishes and Sweet dishes


Six Degrees of Separation – Dim Sum, Silk Road, Guangzhou China, Britain, Cuppa Tea and me….

January 3, 2009

As a British Born Chinese, I have lived a very British way of life being educated in Manchester and Australia. However, throughout my life, I grew up with the backdrop of serving and cooking in the family restaurant and continue my involvement in the catering empire as a co-owner of Sweet Mandarin Restaurant (


(Illustration by Lisa Tse “To The Ruler, the People are Heaven, to the People Food is Heaven”)

Chinese food has had an overwhelming presence in my life and been the catalyst for my hunger for understanding China and the significance of food in its culture. This series explores the cities where I stayed, the lives that crossed my path and the amazing food with a story to tell. China is a captivating and vivacious collection of diverse cities, provinces and regions. In the south, Guangdong, the Cantonese speaking region is renowned for its steaming, boiling and stir frying and dim sum feasts which we have become accustomed to and love in the western world. Beijing in the coldest area of China boasts the Emperor’s banquet, the world famous Peking Duck and hot pot. In the east, Shanghai offers its famous Shanghai Dumplings, whilst the Sichuan provinces easily provide the hottest and spiciest cuisine.

I finally arrived at Guangzhou which is famous for its “dim sum”. Literally translated, “dim sum” means “to touch your heart”. Guangzhou is north of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to Hong Kong and holds a special place in my heart as the place where my family originates from. The nickname for this province is “Flower City” because flowers keep blossoming all year round.


(Five Ram Statute in Guangzhou)

It also holds the myth that there were five celestials riding five rams with rice in their mouth. The celestials gave the rice to the residents of Guangzhou and blessed the province with good harvests and an abundance of food. Today, the celestials have flown away but the five rams have been turned into stone sculptures in the Yuexiu Park area. The blessings have seemingly been fulfilled and the city is brimming with masses of people, bicycles and restaurants.

To date, there are over 10,000 restaurants in the city, with seats for over 500,000. The people of Guangzhou are natural born gourmets. Food in Guangzhou is famous worldwide. Indeed in 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of the nationalist party responsible for unifying China, set up his headquarters in Guangzhou and enjoyed dining at the many restaurants serving dim sum.


(Dim Sum Mania on Sunday Mornings)

Dim sum is often referred to as “yum cha” (饮茶) which means “drinking tea”. This interchangeable expression originated from the teahouses which set up along the Silk Road. The Silk Road linked China to Syria and was travelled by merchants and farmers trading their silk, gold, ivory, spices, exotic animals and plants. Travellers and rural farmers, exhausted after working hard, would also go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed it would lead to excessive weight gain. However, people later discovered that tea can aid in digestion. Therefore, teahouse owners began adding more variety of snacks, so the tradition of dim sum evolved.


(Dim Sum Restaurant – Old Hong Kong)

Dim sum mania spread to Hong Kong as the Guangzhou population immigrated to Hong Kong in the 1920s. Chinese restaurants grew exponentially in Hong Kong and soon dim sum was available from 6am through to late afternoon. Restaurants in Hong Kong and Guangzhou became filled mainly with the elderly population who often gathered to eat after the morning session of tai chi exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers.

In the west, dim sum came about as a natural result of Chinese immigrants moving to the western world. When Europe started trading with the Orient, the seaport of Guangzhou became the gateway to the West. The Chinese readily absorbed these cosmopolitan influences, and being great travellers themselves, emigrated to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. They were the first to make Chinese cooking known to the Western world and as a result dim sum has become the firm favourite of the Western world.


(A Packed Dim Sum Session)

Go to a Chinese restaurant on a Sunday afternoon and you will be greeted by a sea of Chinese families spanning three generations. Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of French hors d’oeuvres or Spanish tapas. It’s a colourful and loud dining experience starting with the rush for vacant seats and the hustle and bustle of the gesticulating waiters selling their dim sum specials from their trolleys. Bamboo containers filled with steamed dim sum are stacked high and quickly snapped up. Waiting on staff ask what kind of tea we want to drink offering a vast array of jasmine tea, oolong tea, pu-er tea and green tea which helps to wash down the dim sum. The noise of the chatter of the diners is deafening. It’s a busy, frantic affair and there is an air of organized panic in the restaurants, which adds to the excitement and entertainment. Dim sum is an overwhelming introduction to the Chinese nation’s love of food, gregariousness and cheerful chatter.

I love dim sum. There are over 200 dishes to choose from. One Cantonese saying goes that anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies is edible. Another says that the only four-legged things that Cantonese people won’t eat are tables and chairs.

The range of cooking skills required to make dim sum is vast. There is usually a dim sum master overseeing his section of the kitchen and there is a real art involved in making the dishes. Some dishes are steamed, others are fried. Some are baked. The variety of tastes is also mind boggling – sweet, sour, savoury and chilli.


(Left: Har Gow, Right: Siu Mi)

There are firm favourites such as “har gow” (prawn dumplings wrapped in translucent rice paper), “siu mi” (pork dumplings) and “char siu bow” (pork buns in a white fluffy dough). If you are feeling more adventurous, an eye opening experience with a stronger flavour is “fung jow” (chickens feet in yellow bean sauce and chillis). One caveat – this particular dish is not for the faint hearted. The sweet dishes for dessert range from the egg custard tarts which are extremely delicious to sago pudding or mango pudding which are refreshing and a great ending to the dim sum experience.


(Me (Left) learning how to make dim sum with my sister (centre) and mother, Mabel (Right))

A meal in a restaurant opens the taste buds, but cooking dim sum for my friends and family widens all the senses. I learnt the authentic recipes from Guangzhou and used them at Sweet Mandarin. Together with my sisters, Helen and Janet we made every dim sum from fresh. Stuffing and shaping wontons was the real family enterprise. We made the stuffing from a light prawn mince and wrapped the teaspoon of filling with a fine egg based pastry. We all left our individual stamp on the won tons in the way we crimped the edges. I added a flamboyant tail on these wontons, which can then be dipped in the sweet and sour dip. My everyday rituals of properly selecting produce, cooking and presenting a meal, which I have inherited from my family, have given me an insight to see the meaning of my own cooking as a metaphor for life.

I would love to share with you our recipe on making this exquisite dim sum.
For the Prawn Filling
250g pack shrimps
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp potato starch
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Hot vegetable oil to lightly fry the wontons
Ingredients for the Wonton Wrappers
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp potato starch
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of plain flour
Dressing for the wontons
Serve with Sweet Mandarin’s The General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce
Method to make the wonton pastry
1. Kneed the ingredients together into a ball. The consistency is dough like.
2. Leave in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Roll out into a very thin sheet (as thick as a piece of paper) with a rolling pin ensuring there is plenty of flour to avoid sticking.
4. Cut into squares 3inches squared.
Method to make delicious and easy wontons
1. Put all the prawn mixture into a food processor and mix thoroughly.
2. Shape into balls the size of walnuts.
3. Place the filling balls into the centre of the wonton wrappers. To make the tail, gather the four edges and twist together.
4. Heat oil
5. Place wontons in hot oil for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Drain from oil.
7. Serve the wontons with the Sweet Mandarin’s General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet Mandarin offers a brunch special on Saturdays and Sundays – Eat all you can Dim Sum for 10 pounds per head. Match with Jasmine Tea and it makes for a wonderful relaxing weekend with friends and family.  For more information, go to To book a table email

BBC Films The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School and Lisa Tse

January 3, 2009


I was recently filmed for the tv series Inside Out on BBC One which featured Sweet Mandarin and the story behind our restaurant/cookery school. The director, Lawrence and presenter Andy Johnson were brilliant fun and got stuck into the cooking (and eating) at the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School.  You can see the programme on (Home Page).

The Internet is a wonderful thing.  The revolution allows me to reach out to all my students around the world. Now, thanks to the Internet, I have the ability to post my recipes online, making them more accessible to viewers and chefs.  This leaves no excuses—get cooking today!

Best wishes and Sweet dishes to you and your family