June 30 | Comments (0)
When you want something unhealthy, but need to convince yourself that it's good for you, this is the treat. Tis the season for fresh apricots (it works equally well with peaches though), and there's very few things as tasty on a hot summers eve.
12 apricots, halved and remove the stones
1 tablespoon of butter
For the syrup
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (or a vanilla pod cut in half)
Place a frying pan over medium heat, once hot add the butter and apricots. Cook for 7-10 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan bring the water and sugar to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken. (If you're using a vanilla pod, add it at this point.) Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Once the apricots are soft all the way through, take the syrup and pour it over the appricots, stiring over the heat for another minute. Serve over ice cream.
June 29 | Comments (0)
This sandwich is great as both a main meal and as a quick lunch time snack. The key, like any good recipe is in it's ingredients...and most importantly the steak. Get the best you can and you won't be disapointed. Luckily we've got one of the best buchers in London not far from where we live. H.G. Walters stocks some of the best meat around and they've got a wonderful bunch of butchers. They'll cut just about anything you want, and they have a lot of pride in the work they do. If you've got the time, and you're in west London...swing by.
2 x 115-150g/4-5oz sirloin/rump steak, 1cm/½in thick
Mixed leaf salad
Parmesan cheese (block)
For the tomato salsa:
1/2 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
Splash of olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced
350g/12oz baby plum tomatoes
Splash of balsamic vinegar
4 thick slices of sourdough bread, or thick french loaf
You'll need to start by making the salsa. Heat a splash of olive oil in frying pan. Add the onion, garlic. Cook until the onion is soft. Whilst it's cooking, slice your bread and set it aside, then slice 10 to 12 thin pieces of parmesan cheese and set that aside aswell. Add the tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar to your pan cook until the balsamic has reduced and your tomatoes have burst.
Season your steaks with salt and pepper on both sides and put it on the BBQ or Grill for 1 minute on each side. Pull them off the grill and set aside.
Putting together your sarnie:
Place some tomato salsa on the base of your bread and spread it around, then place your mixed salad on top of the salsa. Place the steak slices on top of the salad and place the pamesan on top of the steak. Spoon over the remaining salsa. Add the final slice of bread, and slice in half to serve.
Like most of the food I make, it's quick, tasty and a firm favorite in our house.
June 28 | Comments (0)
Grilled chicken with hot and sweet dipping sauce, otherwise known as Gai Yang or Ping Gai. A dish from north-eastern Thailand/Laos, usually cooked in markets and served with a bag of sticky rice. We've made this dish a few times, usually takes about 1 hour to prepare and cook, but the longer you marinate the chicken the better it tastes. This is a great dish for a party, as it tastes great both hot and cold. Pull out the BBQ and make your neighbours jealous with the smell coming from your backyard. Serve with a sweet chili dip and a quick cucumber salad, dressed simply with yoghurt, malt vinegar and pepper.
You can find all sorts of versions using Google. Our slightly adapted version comes from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alfrod and Naomi Duguid. They've got a website, although it could use some work. It's a shame they haven't spent as much time on their site as they have on their books. Anyhow, here's the recipe.
2 tablespoons of black pepper corns
5/6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of chopped corriander
Pinch of salt
2/3 tablespoons of thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
3 pounds of chicken thighs or legs (about 10 to 12 pieces)
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (not the chicken though), then pour the contents into a large zip-lock bag. Now add your chicken to the bag, seal and shake, i've found this is the best way to get an even coating. If you need to use more than one bag, just make sure you split the marinade evenly. Leave the chicken sit in the bag, in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Heat your grill or fire up the BBQ, place chicken on the grill with the bone side down and grill it until it turns brown (usually about 7-8 minutes). Turn over the chicken and cook until golden on that side aswell and until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
Hot and Sweet dipping sauce (taken directly from the book, forgive me copyright gods)
1/2 cup of rice or cider vinegar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoons of dried red pepper flakes
Place the vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan and heat to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring until it has completely dissolved, then lover heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 mins. Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, pound or mash the garlic and salt into a smooth paste, stir in pepper flakes and mix well. Remove vinegar mixture from the heat and stir in the garlic paste. Let it cool to room temperature. Makes about 1/2 cup of sauce (about enough for 2/3 people).
I love this type of food, the kind reminds us of our travels to Thailand. Simple food, designed for quick lunches on the go.
June 27 | Comments (0)
Just Hungry has introduced me to ChowHound. I feel like i'm the last to know with this one. Seems like this is a community that's been going for some time, given the response to a recent redesign. Being new to the site, I think it's great. The forums are quick and easy to use, registration simple and it seems that the advice being given is useful. I've only been playing with it for a day or so, but already i've managed to get into a bit of a running debate over whether or not Maggie Jones is a good restaurant. (It is, by the way.)
The advice is honest and obviously given by lovers of chow. Don't be put off by the passion, stick with it and you'll be sure to get great advice on where to eat in just about any local.
There's a massive community of food lovers out there and i'm only scratching the surface.
Summer in a glass. When it's hot and you're looking for something to quench your thirst, this is it. I would imagine that you could probably add vodka if you wanted, but I like the clean fresh taste of the virgin drink. Quick and easy and good for summer parties.
1 Bag of crushed ice (or enough to fill a large jug)
1/2 cup of sugar
Juice from 2 lemons
Juice from 1 lime
4 or 5 leaves of fresh mint
1. Add all of your ingredients except the mint to a blender and blend together until relatively smooth. If you don't have a blender I find that putting your ingredients into the jug and bash it like you would spices with a mortar and pestle, with the small end of a rolling pin.
2. Once you have the ice broken into smaller bits, add in the mint and blend until broken up...don't do it too small though.
3. Serve in large tumblers with a sprig of fresh mint to garnish.
It's so easy to grill vegetables; they cook quickly, taste great and are very simple to prepare. Just drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, skewer them together and put them on the grill for 5-8 minutes. Don't over do it, if you're not sure if they're done, err on the side of caution as most veg still tastes great raw...if you get it right they should be al dente.
Another grill favourite of mine is to slice carrots (or use baby carrots) and place them on to a sheet of aluminium foil, add a dolop of butter, and some dill. Wrap it all up, into a little package (try to make it as flat as possible, no more than 2 carrots high) and put it on the grill for 10-15mins. When it's almost ready poke some holes in the top to let the steam out (so you don't burn yourself).
Both of these dishes go well with just about any meat...pork chops are a nice choice!
(Thanks Kelly and Francois for the BBQ)
About a month ago our favourite local thai place (Koh Thai) closed and it looked like it wouldn't reopen. Well, thankfully it has but under new management. Turns out, the former owner has taken ill, sold the restaurant and has moved to Ireland. After putting it off for several weeks we decided to give the new place a try.
We were pleasantly surprised that the food seems to be better than it was under the old managment. This could have something to do with the new chef being thai (the old chef was Malaysian). To start, I had the Pandan leaf chicken. Moist, flavourfuI and piping hot these are a great start to a meal. For my main, I had the same dish I measure all Thai restaurants by, Pad thai. It was simple, tasty and authentic, it was cooked to perfection and not a bit was left on the plate. Overall the menu is much of what you would expect at most thai restaurants, varied and good for both carnivors and vegetarians. The best bit, is a 2 course meal is only about £10/head, by far one of the best little places in the Hammersmith area.
The venue and the service
Again, I think the service has gotten better in the management change. The new manager was mingling amongst the tables, and lightly flirting with just about all the female customers. The wait staff were attentive and polite and the food arrived promptly (even though the World cup was on in the corner). The venue has had a bit of a facelift, but thankfully none of the charm has disapeared. The tables are all still a little wobbly, and the garden is still just as lovely and gratefully the conversation between tables still flows amicably.
Give it a try, you won't be disapointed.
Where can you find it?
30 Greyhound Road, London, W6 8NX
See a map
Everyone has their own special recipe for tomato sauce, including me. I've got a couple of variations based on the amount of time I have when I get home (which during the week is limited). This one takes as long as it takes your pasta to boil. Serves about 2 people and doubling the recipe works fine if you need to serve more.
1 tin crushed tomatoes (I use tinned for speed. If you've got a bit of extra time, use ripe cherry tomatoes.)
1 splash of olive oil (use extra virgin if you've got it)
1 splash of red wine
1 pinch of pepper
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of white sugar
1/4 cup of ripped basil leaves (if you don't have fresh basil, dried is fine)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
200g dried pasta (or fresh if you have)
Grated parmesan - enough to sprinkly generously
1. Put your water on to boil for your pasta.
2. Add a splash of olive oil andyour chopped garlic to a deep frying pan, and heat. Get it to the point where the oil is pretty hot...but don't let the garlic take on any colour. (I find a good way to test, is to flick a bit of water into the oil...it'll sputter if its hot enough.)
3. Once the oil and garlic have had a minute or so to heat up, add in your tomatoes.
4. Your water should be boiling by now, add your pasta.
5. To the oil, garlic and tomatoes add the wine, pepper, salt and sugar.
6. After about 2 min, reduce the heat and let it simmer until you're ready to strain the pasta.
7. Just before you're about to strain the pasta, rip up your basil and add it to the sauce.
8. Strain the pasta and then add the pasta and sauce back to the pot mixing it together, then serve piping hot.
9. Sprinkle some parmesan or pecorino cheese on top.
If you want, add in some italian sausage (you'll have to pre-fry the sausage as the recipe is so quick)...it's a nice addition. Put them in as you're adding the tomatoes. * I cheated in the recipe above and added parseley as I only had dried basil...still looks good though.
Whenever we get invited over to dinner, it often includes a none to subtle hint for my wife to make a dessert. This time she decided to try a recipe out of Jamie's Italy which she recieved for her birthday. The recipe is called Nada's cake and is made with grapes...although we used the suggested alternative of blueberries and it was fabulous. I suggest you give it a try...but you'll have to buy the book given that whole copyright thing.
Need a quick after work dinner? This won't take you more than 1/2 hour to prepare and cook...it doesnt' get better than this. While the chicken is grilling I put some pitta in the oven to warm and quickly put together a yoghurt, garlic, tomato and cucumber salad to accompany the meat. Very tasty.
Lets get started....
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspooon of dried chili (you can use a little fresh chili if you have it)
8 boneless chicken thighs (use chicken breasts if you want, i just like the juicy brown meat)
1. Mix oil, onions, parsley, cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric and chili in a food processor until thoroughly blended.
2. Cube chicken thighs (or breasts) and place in a large glass dish. Cover with your blended mixture and get stuck in with your hands to make sure the chicken is covered.
3. Heat up your grill, make sure it's piping hot. BBQ would be great for this as well, but i'm thinking a medium heat would be better. You can skewer the meat or just place it on the grill (as i've done) either work.
4. Grill the chicken for 6-7 mins, or until it's cooked through.
5. Serve and squeeze a little lemon on top.
After much umming and awwing, and serveral resurections, i've decided to focus on what I enjoy most...and that's food. Much of my life revolves around when I can eat, what I can eat, where I can eat and what interesting new things I can try. I'm making my belated New Years resolution and I'm going to give this blogging thing one last kick at the can, and write about the one thing i'm really pationate about. Over the next few months, you'll see some changes to the look of the blog as I switch the focus to food...I'm quite excited.