Friday, 26 March 2010

Guess who's back in the kitchen?

So, eighteen months after my jubilant escape from the nine-to-five (and another British winter!), I'm finally back in the kitchen!

And with more than a couple of tales to tell...

From exploring the majesty of Angkor Wat, to surviving the frentic traffic of Saigon; lazing on the beaches of south Thailand, to diving the incredible and fragile Great Barrier Reef; trekking in the mountains of north Vietnam to skydiving over Byron Bay... this was a trip of memories and magic.

And the food! Well, as you may expect, food was my focus. Everything I hoped for (and occasionally a little bit more...) Noodle soup and 'real' pad thai from countless street vendors, equally good as a breakfast, or a late night snack after a night on the Chang. Fiery dried stingray and icy cold beer in a bar in Chaing Mai, crab claw curry in kuala lumpur, where vats of curries steam and bubble and call. Deep-fried tarantulas challenged my idea of roadside eating in Cambodia, while beef intestine soup in Hong Kong proved surprisingly silky.

Watch this space for the first of many recipes from my travels, starting tomorrow with a fabulous authentic Thai curry as taught to me in a Chiang Mai cookery school!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Fallen off the surface of the earth?

Yes... and re-emerged in South East Asia!

No foodie stuff this time, just wanted to say a quick hello! I've finally started my trip (the interim weeks of planning barely leaving time to eat, never mind blog!)

I am currently in Melaka after a short time in Singapore - and just starting to find my feet.

I'm keeping a travel blog here, and have just completed my first entry, so if anyone's interested, check it out. That will be for general travel stuff - I still plan to use KitK to talk about foodie bits and pieces - and to show off any recipes I might pick up at the cookery classes!

I'll be back with a foodie entry soon!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A bit more news... and Coconut Spiced Kangaroo Kebabs

More news!

I have booked my flights for my trip! I leave England on the 30th November, flying to Bangkok. I'm feeling so many mixed emotions right now that I don't know quite what to do with myself. Taking myself to the pub for a calming glass of red is an option!

Anyway, before I do - here is the first of my recipes from my recent international dinner party!

This is the first course I served in my recent 24, 24, 24 meal - an Australia dish for my friend Belinda! (Psst... I'm going there :P )

I had heard a number of times that kangaroo is notorious for being tough, and that it should never be cooked more than medium rare. It is a very lean meat - and so it is easy to dry it out. To help make it as tender as can be, I marinated in in a mixture of orange juice, coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger and garlic.

Coconut Spiced Kangaroo Kebabs

Feeds 6
  • 300g kangaroo fillet
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 150ml fresh orange juice
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1" ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thai red chili - seeds in
Blitz the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili to a fine paste - add a bit of OJ to thin it out if required.

Stir in the coconut milk and orange juice.

Dice the kangaroo fillets into 1" pieces, and add to marinade. Allow to soak for at least 3 hours - or overnight.

Thread the marinated meat onto soaked bamboo skewers.

Preheat a grill (or broiler) as hot as it can be. Grill the kebabs for 3/4 minutes on each side - do not overcook!

Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a scattering of fresh cilantro!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Six Friends, Six Countries, One City

When I first moved to Brighton I was lucky enough to meet five amazing girls at pretty much the same time! Since then we became very close - long boozy lunches in the pub in Winter; all day picnics on the beach in Summer; and random fancy dress parties pretty much any time of year. We've been clubbing in Ibiza; sightseeing in Budapest; sunbathing in Mallorca; and moonlight camel-trekking in Morocco. Been through break ups and make overs; late nights and countless bottles of wine. These are my girls - my Brighton family.

When an announcement went out inviting foodbuzz bloggers to submit ideas for a unique dinner to help promote their official launch, I racked my brain to think of a special dinner, with very little success.

I had all but given up on the idea when I went round to Alice's flat to dinner to have our regular mid-week Ladies Night. Then Vicki came up with a brilliant suggestion. None of us girls are actually from Brighton originally - and more than that, we're all from different countries - England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Pakistan and Nigeria! She suggested that I cook up a menu with different courses for each country. And I was happy and excited to hear from foodbuzz that they wanted to go ahead with her suggestion!

I decided in the end to do a tasting menu - six small courses. It was a wonderful evening. The girls arrived at half seven; the wine was opened and the chat started immediately!

The guests!

From left:
Vicki (Welsh) - recently landed a dream job as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing house - woop!
Alice - the Londoner, going traveling the week before me!
Moon (Pakistan) - getting married in the Maldives in February - and I'm bridesmaid!
Me! Wearing my Joust Winners' Apron
Mariska (Nigerian) - got married in Vegas a couple of weeks ago (intentionally!)
Belinda, moved to Brighton from Sydney only a few weeks before I met her!

The Food

Marinated Kangaroo Kebabs

First up, my Australian offering - kangaroo kebabs. I had to go up to London to get the meat from Borough Market - and most of us hadn't ever tried it before. With some trepidation I marinated the meat in coconut milk, orange juice and lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili. A light grilling to just more than rare, and it got its rest while I took the photographs!

The meat was deliciously tender, with the smoothness of coconut and the Asian flavours rounding out the rich meat perfectly. Kangaroo has the reputation for being tough, but served rare, was as tender as fillet steak... Empty plates all round!


Akara are bean patties and are the Nigeria course in my international menu. Mariska provided me with a recipe - I'd never even heard of them before! Akara are fritters made from black eye peas, onion and cayenne pepper. Apparently in West Africa they can be served as breakfast, appetizer or snack - and are also sold as street food. And I can see why they are so popular - we all loved them!

Smoked Haddock with Welsh Rarebit

I really wanted to serve Welsh Rarebit for the Welsh course - and smoked haddock seemed like a suitable vehicle! Welsh rarebit is made almost like a very thick cheddar sauce, with mustard, dark ale and worcestershire sauce mixed in. Spread thickly on pan-fried haddock, then broiled til brown and bubbling, the savoury cheesiness matched the smoked haddock perfectly.

Cock a Leekie Soup

Some more Scottish Scran! For a soup course we turn to Scotland, with a bowl of cock a leeky soup. Cool name, huh! Cock a leeky soup is a very old traditional soup - originally made by making stock from a whole boiling fowl, then adding leeks and prunes. More recently, an ordinary chicken is used, and rice is added during the final simmer. I wanted to add prunes - but the shop was out! It definitely hit the spot despite that!

Pakistani Fish Curry with Methi Roti

I asked Moon for a recommendation for what to cook from Pakistan - and she offered me a gorgeous recipe for fish curry - just like her mum used to make! I was excited about making this one, as I love spicy food, and am always happy to try out an authentic recipe. A paste of ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder and cumin was cooked out with some water, then yogurt gradually added to make the curry base. I added in fillets of pollack and simmered until cooked through, then mixed in a good handful of coriander.

I finished the dish with sliced green chillies for those who liked it hot - and a yogurt dip for those who didn't! Scooped up with homemade methi roti... heaven. This is a beautiful curry - thank you to Moon , and her mum, for the recipe!!

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee pie! Ummmm... Did you know it originated in England? I didn't - I always thought it was an American creation for some reason. But no, it's English. And not just that, it originated only eight miles outside of Brighton, at the fantastic Hungry Monk in Jevington. Yes, I've been there, and tried banoffee pie in it's birthplace!

Dulce de leche, boiled up from condensed milk; cream whipped with an espresso reduction; coffee-scented biscuit butter base; and chopped perfectly ripe bananas. Simple, easy, irresistible!


The evening was a success! We didn't finish eating until half 11; there was much hilarity and I don't think more than ten seconds of silence at any time. On the whole, we all enjoyed the drawn out dining style... with the notable exception of Alice... The grazing thing is fine, but what I really like is sitting down to a big plate of pie!

The sign of a good night!

Thank you to foodbuzz for giving me the chance to spend such a wonderful night with my best friends. And thank you to my best friends for being there!

I will be posting up the recipes over the course of the next week - stay tuned!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Warning - Envy-Inducing News Within! (And Proscuittio Wrapped Sole ;)

I have some news that I just couldn't wait to tell you!! *

Hang on - first things first. it appears I have been remiss in my accreditation of Peter the Greek. You may recognise the formation of my plating below as reminiscent of a certain, recent Kalofagas post. And indeed it is. But I was so excited, I forgot to write it up ;) Peter, my humblest apologies... ;)

I'm leaving good old Blighty just in time for the cold(er!) season, and going off on a mighty, foodie traveling adventure, all by myself!

It's been on the cards for a while, but I didn't want to post about it until I had spoken to my work. I have just had 'the chat' with them today - so now the countdown begins! This is the news I was being mysterious about in an earlier post, and is the reason why I have leased out my flat... It's a good un, huh?!

So anyway, I don't have tickets booked yet, but I will be flying to Bangkok sometime later than a month from now, but hopefully before Christmas. I'm then going to travel around SE Asia overland for a few months - meeting up with a couple of friends on Ko Pha Nang for the Full Moon Party.

Then to recover from the excesses we'll be taking a diving course - new to me! Other than that I'm going to visit Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Plus anywhere else that takes my fancy - probably Sri Lanka, and just maybe a trip to China to visit another friend.

And I'm taking a week to nip over to the Maldives to celebrate a friend's wedding (I'm bridesmaid!). Imagine a week of five star luxury (not to mention the free cocktails!!) after all that back-packing! :D

After that I plan to spend some time in Australia, then maybe a month in India on the way home.

Did I mention that I've been researching cookery schools? Because that's one of my main reasons for going! The food. Cooking and eating. Eating and cooking. And smelling. Then maybe a bit more eating. Just imagine... nom nom nom...

I'd love to meet up with any fellow bloggers out in those neck of the woods - and any recommendations for things to do, see, eat or cook will be most welcome! I've only allowed myself to plan loosely as I want to have freedom to make my decisions when I'm there.

Right, I'll turn the envy generator off now. (No, not really, I'm still grinning like a loon!)

But I wouldn't make you green, and leave you without even a taste of food, so have a delicious plate of...

Prosciutto Wrapped Sole with Roast Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2
  • 1 large dover sole, skinned and filleted (i.e. 4 fillets)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 125ml white wine
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 cloves roast garlic
  • Floury potatoes, boiled in salted water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • knob of butter
  • A shot of cream or milk
  • Sugar, Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 150c.

Prepare the Base...
Take a baking dish just big enough to take all the tomatoes in one layer, and drizzle in some olive oil. Cut the onion into 8 wedges, and lay in tray. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes until soft and sweet.

Wash the cherry tomatoes, add to the onions and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to 175c, throw in the glass of wine, chuck it back in the oven and set about making your fillet rolls.

Prepare the Fish...
Mix the olive oil with the lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, and a twist of sea salt if you fancy.

Take one fillet of sole, brush with the oil mix, and roll into a twist. Take a slice of prosciutto and wrap it round the fish, making a little skirt. Repeat with all the fillets. Brush the top of the fish with any excess oil mixture.

Get the oven dish out again, and sit the fish on top of the tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, or until done.

Make the Mash...
Make the roast garlic mash, by ricing the the potatoes and mixing in the butter, milk or cream and cloves of roast garlic. Make sure you mush up the garlic first - otherwise someone's going to get a garlicky shock... Hey, now there's a party game - mashed potato roulette... with garlic, chillies and chocolate!

Finish the Dish...
Move the fish to rest, and stir up the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as required - you may want to add a bit of sugar if the tomatoes are sharp.

Serve with green beans, a wide grin, and a smug air!

* Apologies to my Twitter buddies - maybe I should have written this before I tweeted the news?! ;)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Fancy Mushrooms with Oak Smoked Garlic

This is a fast, simple recipe, which proves that with good quality ingredients little fussing is required*.

I picked up a load of mushrooms on a recent trip to Borough Market. There were loads of types, and I don't know most but they included ceps, autumn chanterelles, horn of plenty and oysters. They cost a forearm and an ankle (really must sign up to that foraging course next year...) and were supposed to be served for breakfast the next day. But a late night and a hangover made a bacon and egg sarnie the only breakfast option!

Later that day, once the hangover abated, I managed to sort myself out enough to prepare this simple supper: mushrooms with oak smoked garlic, served on bulgar wheat with a dash of lemon and a tickle of thyme.

Fancy Mushrooms with Oak Smoked Garlic

Serves 2
  • Various mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 clove smoked garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • Vegetable stock
  • Half a lemon
  • Half tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Place the bulgar wheat and thyme in a bowl and cover with vegetable stock. Cover bowl and leave for 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, add a good squeeze of lemon juice, adjust seasoning and fluff again.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry gently for 5 minutes until cooked through, adding the garlic and any seasoning for the last couple of minutes of cooking.

Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl, and top with the mushrooms. A garnish of lemon and you're set to go...

* I like fussing. And I like lots of flavours! I'm saying is it isn't necessary.It's kind of like that new pair of toweringly high shoes. Not required... but very, very nice!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Scottish Scran 7 - Mince and Tatties

Mince and tatties. Sounds plain enough, but it was always a source of excitement when we found out we were getting this for our tea! I even thought about calling my two cats after it - Minnie and Tattie for short! it has it's own 'World' championships, and has even been the topic of European parliamentary dispute.

I've been looking forward to this post since I came up with the idea for Scottish Scran. Mince and tatties is another comforting childhood favourite of mine. And just perfect for the colder weather.

There'll be no tough mince here. No watery gravy or onion bulk. The mince is real Scottish steak mince, hung and flavourful. Slow-cooked to a thick sauce, served over buttery mashed potatoes, served with a dash of the ubiquitous broon sauce. Then on the second day, made over with the addition of marrow fat peas (no petit pois, thank you), and potatoes infused with flavour from being slowly cooked in the pot.

Mince and Tatties... Day 1

  • 1 kilo of good beef steak mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • Beef stock to cover
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Mashed potatoes to serve
In a large saucepan, brown the mince in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. This is important - crowd the pan and your mince will boil and lose a lot of flavour. Only drain excess fat if you must - you'll lose flavour and tenderness if you do.

In the same pan, fry off the onion for 3/4 minutes, before returning the mince to the pan. Add the worcester sauce, and beef stock to cover. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Adjust seasoning if required, then add the carrots. Now, continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes, leaving the pan uncovered as required to reduce the stock down to a thick sauce. Top up with more stock if required, though this shouldn't be necessary.

Serve atop a pile of mashed potatoes, and with a bottle of broon sauce on the side!

Mince and Tatties... Day 2

  • Leftover mince from yesterday
  • 1 tin marrow fat peas, drained. or soak your own if you must
  • Potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
In a saucepan large enough to take all ingredients, heat the leftover mince. Add the potatoes, and top up with water if required. (Or stock if you have any left) Adjust seasoning - bear in mind that the tatties will absorb a lot of saltiness. Cover and cook gently until the potatoes are cooked through.

Add the peas and cook for a further minute or two.

Scottish Word of the Day!

mince - nonsense, rubbish

Yer no listenin' tae whit that heid-th-ba tells ye, ur ye? His heid's full a' mince!
Or, in response to some haivering blether, simply: Mince!