Sunday, 26 January 2014

thai-style coconut ice cream

Thai coconut ice cream is one of my favourite Thai food discoveries. Most days on my walk home from the BTS station after a long day at work I pass a street vendor selling this treat with all the various, uniquely Thai toppings such as sticky rice, roasted peanuts, corn and all sorts of candied sweet-bits. I have to muster all my will power to not indulge every day!

Whenever I discover something I've not had before I have a real desire to figure out how I can make it for myself. I take great satisfaction in this process so after much searching on the internet I've come up with this recipe for a Thai-style coconut ice cream. I make no claims that this is an authentic method but it is pretty tasty and with a deliciously creamy texture. If you can get hold of it, you should try serving with some cold sticky rice on top and some roasted peanuts. It seems like an odd idea to Western tastes at first but it really works, I promise! 

Thank you to She Simmers for the inspiration with this recipe. That website is an endless inspiration for all my Thai food experimentations at the moment. Check out the She Simmers ice cream recipe here

3 cups full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatine powder
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 3/4 cups of sweetened condensed milk (I used a 388ml can)
generous pinch of salt
  1. Mix the coconut and condensed milk together in a large sauce pan. In a small bowl blend the cornflour with a little of the milk mixture until you get a smooth paste then stir through the rest of the milk and add the powdered gelatine and salt. 
  2. Put the pan over a medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisk regularly until the cornflour and gelatine is fully dissolved. 
  3. Remove from the heat and place over an ice bath while giving it a good whisk to speed up the cooling down process.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled pour the mixture into an ice cream machine if you have one and churn it according to the manufacturer's instructions. 
  5. If like me you don't own an ice cream machine all is not lost. Pour the mixture into a freezable container with a lid and pop the cooled mixture into the freezer for about 30 minutes. After it's been in there for a while, scrape the mixture into a large bowl, give it a good beating with a whisk then pour it back into the box. Repeat this process 3 to 5 times or until it is frozen throughout and has a creamy consistency without any large ice crystals.
  6. Serve however you wish. It's great in a Thai style ice cream sandwich with brioche style bread or topped with roasted peanuts, chopped up water chestnuts, dates and some sticky rice. Whatever takes your fancy. 

'cornish' pasty

You really can't beat a proper Cornish pasty. Sometimes it's the only thing that'll do. In the last few years pasties have become an important feature of my culinary life. You see, I married a Cornish man. He is born and bred in Cornwall from a long line of proper Cornish folk. Pasties are so important to his family that the very first thing his Dad asked when we told him we were getting married was "how many pasties do you want me to bring for the wedding reception?" No Cornish party is complete without a pasty it seems.

But lets get this out of the way  before we go any further - I know what I've made here can't  truly be called a Cornish Pasty. It was made in Bangkok not in Cornwall and it didn't use Cornish ingredients but my argument is that as it was given a ceremonial blessing from my husband we can call it Cornish. He also supervised the pasty making to ensure I adhered to the official standards (side crimping, NO CARROTS, egg glaze, correct meat and appropriate ingredient ratios).

My recipe is based on the one from the Cornish Pasty Association but with the substitution of butter for the margarine (I refuse to use that stuff) and lard for the white shortening. I couldn't find lard here in Bangkok so had to render my own from so pork fat I bought at the butchers. You can check out the original Cornish Pasty Association recipe here

Ingredients (enough for 4 proper sized pasties)

500g strong bread flour (you need to use a stronger flour so that you get the more pliable consistency you need)
120g lard
25g unsalted butter
5g salt
175g cold water

450g good quality beef eg. skirt
700g potato (ideally a waxy kind) or 450g potato and 250g swede (I don't like swede very much so we didn't use it)
200g onion
Salt & pepper to taste( 2/1 ratio)
Clotted cream or butter (optional) 

  1. Place the flour in a large bowl, then chop the butter and lard into the flour and mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
  2. Add the water and mix/knead until the dough comes away from the edges of the bowl and becomes elastic. This will take a little longer than it does with regular pastry as your trying to build up the strength that is needed to hold everything in. 
  3. Wrap the dough ball in cling film then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. 
  4. When you're ready to assemble the pasties, preheat your oven (Gas 6, Fan 165C, Electric 210C)
  5. Next finely chop and slice the potato, onion and beef, season very generously with salt and pepper and mix everything together in a large bowl.
  6. Quarter your pasty dough and roll out into circles about 2-3mm thickness. You're aiming for about the size of a dinner plate.                                                                                                                                              
  7. Place a quarter of the meat and potato mixture slightly off-centre in the circle. Add an extra little dollop of butter or clotted cream if you wish then fold over the pastry so that everything is sealed in and you have a semi-circular shape.  

  8. Next is the crimping to make sure everything stays sealed while cooking. This is probably the most tricky part of making the pasty. I've tried to include step-by-step photos below but you'll mostly need to feel your way with it. Sorry. There are some useful videos on the internet if you want some more guidance. Paul Hollywood's demonstration is straight forward and easy to follow and starts around 3:25.

    Not bad for a Polish girl!
  9. Place each crimped pasty on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Make a couple of small holes in the top of each pasty, glaze with beaten egg or milk then bake for around 40mins to an hour until it is golden brown all over. 
  10. Try to resist eating them straight from the oven. Pasties are really at their best when they're just warm. A pasty is a meal in itself so don't feel the need to serve it with any accompaniments. Just enjoy!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

massaman curry paste

One of my favourite Thai curry pastes. Not too spicy and is often considered a 'training' curry for children and those who like their food on the milder side. My favourite massaman curry use stewing steak and potatoes but you regularly see it on the menu in Thailand with chicken too. This is my finished version made with beef. 

This is based on the nicest recipe I've found online so far and made a great curry. Thank you! I've made a couple of small alterations along the way due to necessity but remained fairly close to the original.

8 dried long red chillies
1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
2 teaspoons whole coriander
2 teaspoons whole cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stem lemon grass, trimmed, white part chopped
3cm piece galangal, peeled, chopped

  1. Soak the chillies in recently boiled water for 20-30 minutes or until soft and pliable. Dran then cut into small pieces with scissors. 
  2. In a dry frying pan quickly roast off the whole spices until their fragrance is released. This will take 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. You could do this in a blender but I find you get a better finished product for dry spices in a pestle and mortar. 
  3. Either continue with the pestle and mortar or transfer to a blender, combine the dry spices, shrimp paste and chillies with a tablespoon of water until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition until you have a thick paste. 
  5. Use the paste immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months. Curry paste also freezes fairly well so if you're in the mood why not make a larger batch for another day?

Here's a link to a great massaman curry recipe while I get around to posting my own version. Enjoy!

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