Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thai Green Chicken and King Prawn Curry

After reading Nigella's book Kitchen, my latest new obsession is sushi rice. I know it's nothing earth shattering, but it's my absolute favourite carbohydrate at the moment. There's something so comforting about the slightly sweet flavour of the grains that cling to each other and soak up whatever juices or sauce that you spoon over it. The sticky texture is the ultimate comfort food, warming and satisfying on these colder days that we've had in the last couple of months - and without the guilt, that I at least, certainly feel with a big bowl of pasta or a bread-heavy meal. I can justify a big bowl of sushi rice to myself with 'It's ok, it's unprocessed and natural,' unlike the other carbs that I usually turn to for comfort - cue bread based meals like pizza, fried foods like chips or breadcrumbed dishes, or pasta dishes which, let's face it, usually come topped with cheese!!

So, on to my other current obsession - the topping for this rice: Thai Green Curry. The gentle heat with the creamy (yet not as hideously detrimental for the waistline as actual cream!) coconut milk, and subtle flavourings of lemongrass, lime and ginger creates my ultimate weekend treat at the moment. Obviously you could put whatever you wanted in it meat-wise, or in fact you could make a vegetarian one, however my particular favourite is chicken and king prawn. You don't need many prawns, they're sort of the icing on the cake, and chicken seems to compliment the flavours beautifully.

The recipe I've used is a Waitrose one which I tailored slightly to my taste, but I imagine they're all fairly similar:

Serves 3:
For the chicken:
3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste

For the curry sauce:
1 tsp olive oil

1 red onion

1cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3-5 tbsp Thai green curry paste
half a jar of tamarind paste (about 40-50g)

400ml coconut milk (one can)
1-2 kaffir lime leaves (I haven't managed to get my hands on these y
et so I used a few strips of lime zest, about half a lime's worth
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

frozen peas (the recipe suggests about 40g, but i just pour in as many as I feel like)

Marinade the chicken in the Thai green curry paste for at least 15 minutes before starting cooking.
Fry the onion in the oil for 3 minutes, then add the ginger and fry till it's all soft.

Still in the paste and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes.
Add 150ml boiling water to the tamarind paste, then add this along with the coconut milk, lime leaves (or zest), lemongrass, and slowly bring to a simmer - but don't boil or the chicken will toughen.

Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked, then add the soy, fish sauce and chilli sauce along with the peas and simmer till the peas are tender.

Remove the lemongrass and leaves or zest, serve over rice and sprinkle with coriander and spring onions if you fancy.

Obviously this recipe doesn't include the prawns, I added them right at the end, just before the peas, so they had a few minutes to cook through. Pile high on a plate and dive in - perfection!!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dedication Cake

Here is my latest attempt at cake decorating, it was for Mr. Colehill's nephew (for whom the New Baby Cake was for in August) who had his dedication last weekend. It was a lovely occasion, with all eyes and attention on the beautiful boy.

This is the first time I've been 'commissioned' to do a cake as it were, as opposed to just deciding to make one, so I was pretty excited to say the least

The cakes were layers of chocolate and victoria sponges, with white chocolate buttercream between each layer and between the sponge and the royal icing. The baby in the basket and building blocks were pure icing...not to be given to any children for fear of some extremely hyper-active playing and probably some very tired parents at the end of the day

Hope you like it, this could be the beginning of a beautiful business :-)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Borough Market Sea Bass and Chorizo

Last Saturday Mr. Colehill and I took a trip to Borough Market to have a little wander and hopefully stock up on some interesting and delicious morsels for the weekend, and we weren't disappointed. I have to admit that Borough Market really is one of my all time favourite places to spend my time, closely followed by the Wholefoods Market in High Street Kensington. I just love the abundance of weird and wonderful products that surround you as you amble through the winding paths through the market, and the gems that you stumble across when you're not sure what you're there to buy.

This time we knew we wanted some fish - yes, I admit it, we were completely drawn in by the Hugh's Fish Fight and Borough Market seemed the ideal place to pick up something wild and a bit different. The amount of choice was quite astonishing - I'm always impressed with the number of stalls and the amount of variety on each stall when I go there, and after perusing the counters we eventually settled on wild Sea Bass. It's a firm favourite and definitely worth a little extra expense, although having said that, I don't think eleven pounds is too bad for a whole fish.

The next couple of things we bought weren't on our list but they were really worth splashing out on: Soft goat's cheese, a lovely multi-grain loaf of bread and some baked delights - a ginormous and overwhelming chocolate brownie and an equally large and very full apple strudel. The cheese was nearly seven pounds, but my god was it worth it. I can't remember the name now but it was a sort of triangular shape with the point lopped off if you can imagine it, and a grey colour from the charcoal ash that it was covered in. Once you cut into it however you unearth the purest creamy white interior, beautiful against the ash and completely irresistible. We demolished an impressive amount of it with the multi-grain bread that afternoon, before moving on to the brownie and strudel which
made me feel like someone out of Gulliver's Travels - they. were. huge. But hey, at least you feel like you're getting your money's worth when they're that size. The brownie was gorgeous but waaaaaay too sweet and rich for one person to eat the whole lot, luckily I had the human bin, aka Mr. Colehill with me, so that wasn't too much of an issue!

After our purchases we picked up some lunch - a beautifully tender pork belly and apple sauce baguette for Mr. Colehill, and a fragrant and creamy Thai Green Curry wi
th chicken and seafood on white rice for me. It really was worth every penny, I got a generous amount of chicken which was thigh meat, full of flavour and juicy tenderness, as well as a giant prawn sitting proudly atop the mound of pale green sauce flecked with white rice, and a couple of rogue mussels waiting to be discovered as I made my way through it. It definitely inspired me to make my own Thai Green Curry next weekend, and I've already got my eye on the prawns I want for it from the Wholefoods Market, which is where we visited next.

Yes, it was a very food oriented shopping day - the best kind! So w
e made our way to Kensington from Borough Market and bought some Chorizo Picante from the deli counter, as well as a very large sack of sushi rice (a new obsession at Colehill Kitchen) and some other random dried goods in brown bags because we got over excited using the 'pour it yourself' funnels. Yes, we're that childish.

The result of a day's dedication to shopping was, among other things, this fish dish.

I baked the Bass pretty much plain (other than a little seasoning) in foil at 180 degrees for about 18 minutes
, and while that was cooking I par boiled some new potatoes then tossed them in with the chorizo, which I had fried for a couple of minutes first until the oils were released a little. They cooked together for about 5 or 6 minutes until the firy red of the chorizo oil had covered and infused the potatoes. When that was done I transferred the potatoes and chorizo into a warm bowl and deglazed the pan with some white wine before adding a splash of cream and some of the juices from the baked fish right at the very end before serving.

Served with vibrant green beans, this was a really simple but special meal. I know that white fish with chorizo isn't exactly a groundbreaking combination, but it's a classic because it's just so damned delicious!! The slightly spicy flavour of the chorizo compliments the softer but still firm flavour of the Bass, which can also stand up to the saltiness in the meat. Alongside the waxy potatoes which give texture and soak up the salty liquor from the chorizo, and the slight crunch of the green beans, this dish was a real winner and I'll definitely make it again!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Chocolate Orange Cookies

It's always exciting to try new recipes, and even more so to tweak recipes in your own individual way to make something extra special, but for me, the most exciting thing is to create a recipe that's completely your own. This is the first sweet recipe that I've ever invented myself, and as something from the baking realm it was quite daunting - things can go so easily wrong (and trust me, they did a couple of times) but when it works you get the greatest sense of achievement, well, in my opinion anyway.

So here's my little creation: Chocolate Orange Cookies. They're sort of cracked and glossy on the top and soft and squidgy in the middle - my ideal texture for a cookie. The orange flavour comes through quite strongly which is just my own taste, and the slightly bitter tones of the dark chocolate really set of the sweetness of the orange beautifully.

Chocolate Orange Cookies
300g dark chocolate
50g butter
2 eggs
170g soft light brown sugar
half a teaspoon of baking powder
125g plain flour
Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of half an orange

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.
Melt the butter with
200g of the chocolate, set aside. Chop the remaining chocolate into chunks.
Beat the eggs, sugar and zest until pale and fluffy, then add the melted chocolate mixture.
Sieve in the flour and baking powder and combine.
Add the orange juice and the remaining dark chocolate chunks, then spoon on to a lined baking tray and bake for 0-5 minutes until they are beginning to crack on the top.
Leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring on to a cooling rack as they'll be very fragile and near impossible to transfer at first.

I gave these to a friend as part of her Christmas present and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy them and told me that the rest of her family were fans too, so I'm thrilled - I hope you try them, and try your own recipes too :-)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hugh's Fish Fight

No recipes this time I'm afraid, but something far more important in my opinion - the conservation of our fish stocks. As I write I'm watching the second in a three part series by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called Hugh's Fish Fight, a programme which has quite rightly caused a stir in the media and I can only hope indignation across the country.

As well as the launch of this campaign, I coincidentally got Hugh F-W's River Cottage Meat Book for Christmas and this too has whipped me up in to a frenzy of anger and resentment over bad farming practices and unacceptable treatment of animals before they are killed for meat. Now, I hold my hands up and say that I probably haven't educated myself on this subject as well as I should have done as a food lover, but it's time to change. A New Year's resolution of mine this year was to do just that, to learn as much as I can about the meat and fish industry and to ensure that I only buy meat and fish from ethical farms, and if that isn't available, well I'll just do without and turn temporarily vegetarian until I can buy well sourced meat.

I hope if you're reading this that you too are interested in this topic, as I'm sure you are if you're a bonafide foodie like me and the rest of the food blog writing and reading world. After writing this post I'm going to attempt to add the Fish Fight widget to this blog (ambitious words for my practically computer illiterate self) and hopefully the next website you visit will be the Fish Fight campaign that accompanies the programme currently airing. Do send an email to your MP, do sign the petition, but most importantly, if you're like me, change your own buying and eating habits.

I don't pretend to be perfect, and I'm sure over the coming months I'll have a hiccup or two and forget my resolution by picking up a can of tuna (I gather even Princes are less than perfect in their fishing practices) or grabbing a chicken sandwich on the run, but hey - I'm putting one hundred per cent effort in to trying, and sticking to the principles that really, I think I've always had, I just haven't done the research into before.

Wish me luck, and here's to a happy, healthy and conscientious