Saturday, 3 May 2014

spring onion and chilli pancakes

Pancakes for breakfast are always welcome and these savoury spring onion and chilli pancakes are no exception. You can put them together very easily in no time at all but they feel like a real treat. Enjoy them as they are or do as I did and enjoy with a soft poached egg and some crispy bacon.

1 1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper
1 large egg
2/3 cups milk
3/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
4 or 5 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped white and green parts
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
vegetable oil for cooking
  1. Put all of the ingredients apart from the spring onions into a blender and blitz for a minute or so or until everything is thoroughly combined. You can mix everything together by hand but this way is so much easier.
  2. Add the spring onions and stir through or very briefly pulse the mixture to bring everything together
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan and add a tablespoon or so of oil then pour in 1/4 or 1/3 cup measures of the mixture. Turn the pancakes over once bubbles have formed on the top then cook for another minute.
  4. Serve with some crispy bacon and chilli sauce or add a poached egg for extra decadence.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

spicy peanut butter noodles with broccoli and pickled mustard

This is a 'store cupboard special' recipe. Chances are you'll have all, if not most of these ingredients in your kitchen already and if not you can improvise. These noodles are quick and easy too. (I have been known to knock up a bowl after a night out on more than one occasion!) Once you understand the basic idea of this simple dish you can alter the flavours based on your own tastes or what you have in. The foundation of the sauce is peanut butter made into a sauce with hot water. You could even make this super healthy by blending roasted, unsalted peanuts with water and various seasonings.

Ingredients (2 greedy people)
200g egg noodles
1 head of broccoli or other veg of your choice, cut into bite sized pieces, stem and all
The sauce
3 heaped tbsp (crunchy) peanut butter
3 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce/chilli ketchup or similar. (You can add more or less of this to taste)
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp soy sauce
250ml (just) boiled water

To serve any selection from:
Finely sliced onion/spring onion
lime wedges
pickled mustard
radish slices
fresh coriander, mint and/or chives

  1. In a pan of boiling water cook the broccoli for 5 minutes then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set to one side.
  2. In the same pan cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  3. Meanwhile, get on with preparing the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients apart from the water. Taste and adjust the chilli seasoning to your taste. Next add the water little by little until you achieve the consistency of pouring cream. 
  4. Once the noodles are cooked, drain then place in a large mixing bowl, then stir through the broccoli and peanut butter sauce. Serve with the lime wedges, onion and pickled mustard or whatever you've got. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

banana and coconut pancakes

There's nothing much I can say about this recipe. They're simple, delicious and a great weekend breakfast treat. If you've got a blender or food processor you can make these pancakes even faster by throwing everything in together and blitzing until it is well combined.

Ingredients (makes 8-12 pancakes)
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2 bananas, mashed
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, coconut, sugar and salt. In another combine everything else (bananas, egg, milk and oil). 
  2. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet and whisk everything until it is thoroughly combined.
  3. Heat up a skillet or non-stick frying pan over a medium heat then pour the mixture into the pan using 1/4 or 1/3 cup measures. Once bubbles form on the pancake flip them over and continue to cook until they puff up and are golden brown on both sides. 
  4. Serve with syrup, butter, yogurt, fruit or whatever you fancy. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

amok trey (cambodian steamed fish curry)

Amok is widely seen as the national dish of Cambodia. It is a fragrant spiced curry that is steamed in banana leaves or coconut shells. You can get fish (trey), prawn, chicken and vegetarian versions but the fish is the most traditional. The flavour is similar to a mild Thai red-curry and there is a similar dish in Thailand called Hor Mok

To make your own amok at home is actually surprisingly easy. If you really don't have the time to make your own paste from scratch by all means use a ready bought red curry paste but get the best one you can find. Thank you to Mimi Aye and Luke Nguyen for their inspiration putting together this version of Amok trey.
Amok paste ingredients
Ingredients (serves 2-4 depending on serving bowl size)
Amok Paste:
3 long dried chillies, cut finely and soaked for around 30 minutes in tepid water to soften
6 large cloves garlic
2 shallots finely diced
4cm piece/s fresh turmeric root or 1 tsp ground turmeric
4 sticks of lemongrass, trimmed and sliced as finely as possible
thumb sized piece of galangal, peeled and finely diced
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste

Everything else:
400ml (1 can) coconut milk
2 eggs
handful of large spinach leaves or similar
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
approx 400g firm fish fillets, cut into bite sized pieces (or the equivalent of chicken, prawns, squid etc.)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

finished paste
  1. Start of by making the paste. You can either do this in a food processor or you can use a pestle and mortar. Either way, make sure everything is cut as finely as possible before you start and it will make the whole process a lot quicker and easier. If you're using the pestle and mortar start off with the 'harder' ingredients then add everything else little by little. I started with the lemongrass then galangal, ginger, turmeric root, soaked chillies, lime leaves, garlic, shallot then finally the shrimp paste. 
  2. Heat the oil in a pan then cook the amok paste until fragrant (1 minute or so) then add the coconut milk and simmer gently for around 5 minutes. Season with the fish sauce and pam sugar then remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
  3. Now prepare your steamer. I used a metal trivet in the bottom of a large saucepan. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring the water up to a boil. If you have the time, patience and materials now would be a good time to make your banana leaf cups too. Check out Rachel Cooks Thai for a good tutorial. I was hungry and couldn't find any banana leaves when I went shopping so instead used my oversized tea cups. They worked perfectly.
  4. Once your coconut mixture has cooled enough stir through the beaten eggs and add the fish chunks. Line your bowls/tea cups/banana leaf bowls with the spinach leaves then spoon in the fish pieces. Pour over most of the liquid but leave a little to one side for later.
  5. Now place your filled bowls in the steamer, cover and steam on a high heat for 15 minutes. Add the remaining liquid to the bowls then lower the heat to medium and cook for a further 30 minutes. During the cooking process the amok will souffle up a little so don't be alarmed.
  6. Once the time is up, remove the bowls from the steamer. Drizzle over a little coconut milk and garnish with some sliced kaffir lime leaves and finely sliced chillies too if you like. Serve with steamed rice.

amok paste mixed with coconut milk
bowls lined with spinach leaves
Ready for the first steaming

weekend in siem reap

Those of you that follow me on twitter will know that I recently went on a trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I had never been to Cambodia and really didn't know what to expect. The purpose of our visit, as it is for many, was to visit the temple 'ruins' of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and around. We spent our days cycling around on rental bikes stopping to explore the temples that we found along the way. It was wonderful being out of hectic city life and being reminded that there is another life beyond the city.

Of course no visit anywhere is complete with out some foodie treats. So in the evenings we headed into the town in search of food and drink. Siem Reap is a relatively small city but there are lots of great food options there to be found. As we were only in the country for a few days and it was my first visit, I wanted to get an understanding of Cambodian food and flavours. On our first night we enjoyed a great dinner at the Cambodian BBQ. There are similar versions of this dining experience around the region but here they bring a bucket of hot coals to your table, put a kind of hot pot / griddle over the heat and then bring you dishes of meat, vegetables, noodles and rice. The idea is to grill the meat over the central part of the griddle allowing the cooking juices to fall down into the moat of stock below. In the mean time you would be cooking fresh rice oodles and pieces of pumpkin or other vegetables in the developing broth, occasionally ladling some out to eat. The waiting staff will keep topping up your noodle, vegetable and broth supplies until you can take no more! It's a great fun and sociable way to eat and I'll definitely be seeking out other Cambodian style BBQ places when I get chance.

The next night we wanted to try some classic Khmer cooking and headed to The Sugar Palm. This is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Siem Reap and Gordon Ramsey has even visited to learn how to cook traditional amok.

Anyway, we had cycled the best part of 30 miles and felt we had earned a feast for dinner so ordered plenty. We enjoyed the Beef Skewers marinated with lemongrass, pomelo salad with pork, shrimp, mint and coconut, chargrilled aubergine/eggplant with pork and finally Amok Trey. Every dish we had at The Sugar Palm was delicious and next time we're in Siem Reap I will definitely be coming back. 

Check out my version of amok trey here. 

Amok Trey

Spring Rolls

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