Monday, 27 June 2011

Pad thai

I made pad thai for dinner last night at the request of my son.  Unfortunately I didn't have all the correct ingredients but made do with what I had.  So this is my version.

You will need

  • 1 large chicken breast  (it should be tofu)
  • 200g of raw prawns
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large packet of rice stick noodles
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 cup of roasted chopped peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon of chile flakes
  • 2 cups of finely slice white cabbage (it should be bean sprouts)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 cup of pad thai sauce
  • Water to loosen the sauce

Pad thai sauce
  • 1/2 cup of tamarind puree 
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
Heat all ingredients in a pot until the sugar has dissolved
It should be tart, salty and sweet.  It will mellow once combined with the noodles and rest of the ingredients

Prep all your things in advance to make the final cooking easy.

Soak the rice stick noodles in cold water.  You want them to be flexible.

Start by making the egg omlette.  I used my wok for the cooking.  Remove the omlette that has been folded into three,  then cook the prawns with some garlic, remove and finally cook the chicken.  Don't over do it as it will need to get heated again in the final cooking when everything comes together.

Heat the wok to medium heat, add some oil and the noodles and 1/2 of the tamarind sauce.  Continously stir around.  You want the noodles to soften up, add water if it becomes to sticky.  Once the noodles are nearly done add the cabbage and the juice of the lime and the chile flakes.  Keep stirring adding more sauce and water to get the desired consistency and taste.  Finally add the nuts, prawns, chicken, egg that has been chopped up and spring onions and warm through.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Chicken wings 3

This is the easiest of the 3 marinades as it only has 2 ingredients in it.

  • 1/2 can chilpotle chiles in adobados sauce (thats probably about 3)
  • 1 whole can of mangoes in light syrup but don't add the syrup

Just blitz in a blender until smooth
You can use this mixture as a base for all sorts of things.  I also add it to mayonnaise giving it a hot smoky sweet taste. Add a squeeze of lime juice and some garlic and some fish sauce if your game.  Perfect for prawns or any seafood.  Actually it is good with anything.

Add enough mixture to coat the chicken wings.  You will have some left over.

Bake in the oven as usual on 180C for 40 minutes, turning and basting about 3 times during the cooking process

These are really simple and delicious.  We just ate them as they were.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Chicken wings 2

This is the second wing marinade recipe I said I would post.  I used about 2 kilos of wings this time as feeding the whole family.

The ingredients are as follows for sweet lemon and rosemary mustard marinade

2 kilos of wings cut into nibbles
1 finely chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
zest of 2 lemons
1-2 tablespoons of honey
1-2 tablespoons of mustard  (I used dijon but any style mustard will work)
Big slug of olive oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
Maldon salt and pepper

Combine all the marinade ingredients and coat the wings and leave for about 2 hours before baking.

Meanwhile prepare your roast potatoes.  I parboil the potatoes first so they have a fluffy edge, which crisp up nicely when roasted.  Lots of olive oil and salt and pepper as well.

Again the secret to good wings when you have a sweet marinade is to crowd them in the baking dish so they don't burn and dry out.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes on 180 C.  Turn and baste 2 or 3 times during this time for even coloring.

To serve, put your roast potatoes on a large serving dish and pour on the chicken wings and all the great sauce that has formed in the bottom of the pan.
Eat with a simple dressed green salad.
So simple and so satisfying.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sweet tart lime dressing

This dressing is perfect for a coleslaw, especially if it is being served with asian food.   This is ideal served with chicken wings and rice.

The dressing recipe is as follows

Juice of 1 or 2 limes  (depends on how juicy they are)
1 heaped teaspoon of white sugar
1 teaspoon of fish  sauce
Pinch of chilli flakes
Mix until sugar is dissolved

Coleslaw ingredients

Finely shredded white cabbage
Finely shredded red cabbage
Finely shredded carrot
Finely sliced mint
sprinkles of sesame seeds

Chicken wings 1

I intend to post a few different marinades for chicken wings over the next couple of weeks and I thought I would start off with the most familiar one first.  Who doesn't like sticky chicken wings.
First of all divide your chicken wings into 3 parts, discarding the tip ( or use them for your chicken stock)
Nibbles as you no them.

Marinade the chicken nibbles as many or as little as you like in

1/4 cup soy sauce or tarmari sauce
1 tablespoon of honey or brown sugar (what ever you have)
1-2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoon of fresh ginger chopped
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of peanut oil or similar

Mix and coat the chicken wings and marinade for as long as you want.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 30 mins.
I baste and turn every 10 minutes.

The secret to making really good chicken wings that are marinated in something sweet, is to crowd them in the cooking pan so they don't scorch and burn.  The fat released from the chicken skin will mingle with the marinade and make a really delicious sauce to spoon over your rice.
Serve with coleslaw with sweet tart lime dressing.

I only made a small amount of wings as this was Finn's school lunch and my dinner to take to work tonight.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cauliflower Puree/Soup

Cauliflower is really good and cheap at this time of year and it's great for making soup or puree.

Just chop up 1 whole cauliflower any old way, I slice it into thin bits.
Chop 2 onion and 4 cloves of garlic.
Add to the pan with a good slab of butter (remember butter is flavour) and a slug of olive oil and a good teaspoon of maldon sea salt.
Gently cook for a little while the onions are translucent and the butter and  olive oil mingle with everything.  Do not allow it to get brown.
Cover with as much chicken stock as to how thick you want it to become, soup or puree.
Let it cook away until the cauliflower is really tender.

Let it cool then whiz it in the blender.  It blends to a really great smooth consistency.
I like it as simple as that, but you can add cream or parmesan cheese or chives or what ever you fancy.
I have added a can of white beans also to make for a thicker consistency.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Garam masala

I got this recipe from the book 'Spice Market' by Jane Lawson.

The recipe is as follows

Seeds from 10 green cardamon pods
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Dry fry the spices for 1-2 minutes.  Set aside and cool.

Put in spice grinder with the nutmeg and blend until finely ground.  I sieved it as to remove the coarse bits.

5 spice- spice blend

This recipe came from the book 'Spice Market' by Jane Lawson.

The recipe is as follows

1 1/2 tablespoons ground star anise
3 teaspoons ground fennel
3 teaspoons ground cassia ( I used cinnamon as I did't have any cassia)
1 teaspoon ground sichuan pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

I used whole seeds and then ground them in a spice grinder and mixed together.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Turning a block of taramind pods into a puree ready for use is as simply adding water.

I use 1/2 a block at a time

Put the half block of tamarind in bowl and cover with boiling water from the jug.  Probably a cup.  Let it soften for a few minutes and then break and mix up with a fork.

Once it becomes loose strain it through a sieve, push it through with a back of a spoon.

After the first straining I put the pod mixture back into the original bowl and add just a little bit more boiling water to get the last of the puree through.  Now it is ready for use.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

This is a basic chicken curry recipe that I got from Indian curry recipes online.  I have adapted it a bit to suit me.  It turned out really well.  I will definitely make it again.

You will need

4 to 5 single chicken breasts (sliced and salted)
2 large onions
5 cloves of garlic
4 cm chunk of fresh ginger
1 large red pepper
1/2 tin of tomato puree
3 to 4 tablespoons of Sri lankan curry blend
1 tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves
Salt to taste

I used my wok to cook this in.  First of all chop up the onions, garlic, ginger and pepper and cook down until translucent.  Don't forget to add a little salt.

Let it cool down and then whiz in the food processor.

Add some more oil to the pan and put back the onion mixture and cook  again for a few minutes on low heat.

Then add your spice blend and mix and cook further for a couple of minutes.  It shouldn't stick.

Add your tomato puree, 1/2 cup of water or more for desired consistency and then add your raw chicken.  Cook it gently as not to over do it, you can have tender chicken breast if you just heat through to just done.  It will keep on cooking in the hot sauce even off the stove.

I know this looks like grass clippings on top, but once the dried fenugreek leaves are mixed in, it adds another depth of flavor.
We had the curry with basmati rice, raita and naan bread.

Sri Lankan curry blend

I got the recipe for this spice blend from the book 'Spice Market' essential information on spices, spice mixes and spice pastes by Jane Lawson.  It is a beautiful book.  I intend to use this blend for chicken.

You will need

3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cm cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamon seeds from green pods.  Crack open the pods
2 dried chillies
2 teaspoons dried curry leaves  ( I didn't have these so I didn't put them in)

Gently dry-fry them on low heat in a heavy based bottom pan until fragrant about 3 mins.  Don't let them brown too much or it will become bitter and awful and a waste of time.

I started to pound in a mortar and pestle but it was going to take too long, so I used the electric spice grinder instead which only took seconds.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Indian spices

Now that it is winter I really feel like Indian food.  I went off to Shahji Indian wholesale spices in Marua Rd in Ellerslie today.  The man who owns the store is great and really knowledgeable on all his wares and is ready to share all he knows.

I bought this spice container and the main spices you need to make your basic curries.
I'm trying out a basic chicken curry tonight.  Don't know how it will turn out.

I also bought some gluten-free flours.  I have never made gluten-free bread for Finn but now I will have to give it a go.  Apparently you need about 5 flours to get good texture and flavour.