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Thai Recipes > Soups > Tom Yum 7 May 2006

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, Recipes, Thai food, thai soups, variations, very spicy.
3 comments

SpicyTom Yum Gungfreeze-friendly
(Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns)

Serves 4 as a lunch with steamed rice, or as a dish in a main meal

Ingredients:
300g whole, large prawns – uncooked, unpeeled
750mls water
2 stalks lemongrass – lower 1/3 only, cut into 3cm/1inch pieces
5 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding stem
3 purple shallots – sliced
3 cloves garlic – crushed
2 tomatoes – cut into 8 segments each
5 thin slices of galangal (ginza) – skin removed
300g small-medium sized mushrooms – cut in half or quarters into small chunks
20 green birds-eye chillies – cut in half lengthways
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
A handful of chopped fresh coriander

Method:

  1. First, prepare the prawns. Wash, peel and de-vein the prawns, keeping the shells and heads.
  2. Put the shells and heads into a pan with the water and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10-15 minutes, you should notice a smear of oil floating on top. Strain the stock, squeezing out the flavour from the prawn peelings.
  3. Return the stock to the pan and bring back to the boil.
  4. Bruise the lemongrass in a pestle and mortar, then add to the stock with the kaffir lime leaves and mushrooms.
  5. Add the shallots, garlic, tomatoes and galangal and bring to the boil again.
  6. Add the chillies to the stock with the fish sauce.
  7. Cook the stock gently for 2 minutes, then add the prawns. Bring back to the boil and simmer until they have just changed colour.
  8. Turn off the heat.
  9. Remove from the heat, transfer into a serving bowl if required.
  10. Finally, just before serving stir in the lime juice and garnish with coriander.

It's important to stir in the lime juice right before serving, and not whilst it's still on the heat, as this keeps the flavour fresh.

Serve with fresh steamed thai fragrant rice

Cooks Notes:
Tom Yum is usually made very spicy.
You can adjust the levels to your taste, for example to reduce the heat you could use less chillies, consider removing seeds from the chillies if you only like a very mild spice. Leaving them whole also keeps the heat mild, or try bruising whole chillies lightly with a pestle and mortar to release some flavour but allow them to be easily picked out of the finished dish.
On the other hand, slicing the chillies lets out a lot of the flavour and the balance of hot, salty and sour in this dish is unbelievable. You can still avoid eating the half chillies if you like!

Thai cooks use straw mushrooms in tom yum soup and other cooking. Straw mushrooms are available in the UK in tins – watch out though, they are usually stored in brine and will need to be very well drained and rinsed. Remember to cut the mushrooms in half – they have an air pocket inside and this also fills with brine, so rinse them again to ensure the extra salt doesn't ruin your dish!
I've not seen any fresh straw mushrooms here in Edinburgh, but they'd be worth trying if you can get them. The best bet is to buy fresh mushrooms of any kind – I prefer to use brown cap mushrooms, or another closed cup variety because large flat mushrooms make sauces and soups go brown. Other fresh mushrooms such as oyster or shitake also work well.
No fresh mushrooms? Dried mushrooms make a great substitute, especially shitake. Soak in boiling water until soft (about an hour), drain, chop and add to the broth as usual. You can reserve the mushroom liquor for use in risottos or as a mushroom stock. Seal and keep in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays, store in bags and pop into pasta sauces, gravies, soups etc.

Variations:
You can use any meat – chicken, pork, beef, fish, or for vegetarians mixed mushrooms, baby corn or tofu (and switch fish sauce for soy sauce).
Use a home made chicken stock for the best flavoured broth. Be careful of using bought stock cubes as they will add extra (unnecessary) salt to the dish – diluting twice as much as recommended should help.
Chicken and pork take a bit longer to cook, so add the raw meat after step 5 (before adding the chillies) and simmer until just cooked, then add chillies, fish sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Check the meat, when it's cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and finish the dish with lime juice and coriander.

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Desserts > Rhubarb-Ripple Ice Cream 19 April 2006

Posted by cath in desserts, freeze-friendly, Recipes.
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freeze-friendlyDesserts

Good for making from scratch, or for using up left-over rhubarb and custard.
Ingredients:
600g rhubarb (trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces)

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1 vanilla pod

175g caster sugar

250ml whole milk

500ml double cream

4 egg yolks

Stew the rhubarb:

  • Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the orange juice and zest and 50g of the caster sugar.
  • Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the rhubarb is completely soft.
  • Rub the mixture through a sieve into a separate bowl. Chill the juice and purée in the fridge.

Make the vanilla custard:

  • Put the milk and half the cream in a pan with the vanilla pod and heat gently until almost boiling – then remove the vanilla pod.
  • Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar, then pour the hot vanilla milk and cream on to them, whisking all the time.
  • Return the custard to the pan and stir constantly over a very gentle heat until it starts to thicken.
  • Remove from the heat and continue stirring as it cools. It should thicken further.

Making the ice-cream:

  • Combine the custard with most of the rhubarb purée, mixing thoroughly.
  • Lightly whip the remaining double cream and fold it in to the rhubarb and custard mix. Taste the mixture, it should be sweet, add some icing sugar to the mix if you think it needs it.
  • The ice-cream needs to be freeze-churned. You can use an ice-cream machine if you have one – I don't! By hand, put the mixing bowl in the freezer, remove it every hour or so and whisk up the half-frozen mixture. You’ll have to do this several times (I usually do it three times in about 1-1.5 hours apart – but it will depend on your freezer…)
  • When the ice cream is thick and starting to set, put it into the storage tub and make some holes and grooves in it. Drizzle little pools of the remaining rhubarb purée and rhubarb juice into the holes and gently turn the mixture a few times to spread the ripples around. Be careful not to mix them in too much or you won't have any ripples (easy to do – but not a disaster – you've just got rhubarb and custard ice-cream, that's all!)
  • Freeze again until solid.

You’ll have to take the ice cream out and leave it to relax at room temperature before serving.

About Vanilla pods:

You could use vanilla essence instead, or skip the vanilla if you don't like it!

I hear you can even buy fair-trade vanilla pods although I've not tried that yet.

You can re-use a whole vanilla pod easily: just rinse it well and dry it, you can infuse it into milk/cream again.

I also store the used vanilla pod in a jar of caster sugar – this means I can add a little extra vanilla to anything I want (including the custard in this recipe) by using the vanilla caster sugar instead. Definitely worth it if you like vanilla.

I would try it in coffee too – but I don't like suggary coffee or drinks – I'll try to find someone with a sweet tooth willing to try that for me :)

Thai Recipes > Curry > Panaeng Moo 29 March 2006

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
3 comments

SpicyPanaeng Moo
freeze-friendly

(Panaeng Curry Pork)

Serves 4

I must admit to being a bit of a cheater on this one…I have a great recipe for Panaeng curry paste, but I've got into the habit of buying it from the Thai or Chinese supermarket as, unlike some bought pastes, this one has a really authentic flavour…its Mae Ploy Brand, the variety they call "Panang Curry Paste" has a blue strip at the top of the label. They do a whole selection of curry pastes, but the Panaeng is exceptionally good.

Panaeng Paste

Keep your tub of Panaeng paste in the fridge, it will last for ages.

Ingredients:

500g Pork fillet or Tenderloin – thinly sliced
2 tins coconut milk – separated into a saucepan of the thin milk, retaining the thick milk (creamy, solid) for later
1 tin cold water (measure with the empty coconut milk tin)
3 tablespoons groundnut or similar oil
2 tablespoons Panaeng curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
5 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding the stem
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 big red chillies (optional)
Sweet basil leaves
Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  1. Put the pork into the saucepan with the thin coconut milk and water. Make sure the pork is covered by the liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Put the oil in a wok or large saucepan and fry the Panaeng curry paste for about 4 minutes until cooked. Be careful at this stage not to burn the paste. Frying the paste produces a strong, spicy smell so you might want to close the kitchen door, turn on the extractor fan or open a window! For best results just keep moving the paste around the wok and keep the heat fairly gentle.
  3. Once the paste has been frying for a few minutes add most of the thick coconut milk and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the cooked pork and all the remaining thin coconut milk from the saucepan and incorporate it into the curry base, bring back to the boil.
  5. Add the palm sugar and stir to melt and combine, then add the fish sauce and lime leaves. Stir to combine.
  6. Turn off the heat and garnish with basil leaves, chillies and a swirl of thick coconut milk. Serve with steamed Thai fragrant rice.

Variations on the Traditional Ingredients:
Although traditional Panaeng Moo doesn't often include vegetables, I've found that quartered chestnut/brown cap mushrooms and courgette pieces work really well with this curry. Just add the mushrooms to the curry base, or add both mushrooms and courgette chunks when you add the cooked pork and cook for 5-10 minutes depending how crunchy you like your courgette. Alternatively try adding your own favourite vegetables to the curry and leave a comment if you come up with a good combination!

Cooks Note:
Putting the tins of coconut in the fridge for a few hours makes them much easier to separate into thin and thick coconut milk.
Take the can from the fridge and open (being careful not to shake it). Using a knife or spoon handle, push a hole down the side of the tin through the cream to the bottom of the can. Repeat on the opposite side so you have two holes. Then, using the knife/handle to hold open the lower hole, pour the thin milk through it from the bottom of the can straight into a saucepan. Don't worry if some of the thicker milk or cream also gets into the pan, as long as you have some thick milk left to use for making the curry base. Repeat with the second tin.

The Finished Dish:

Panang Moo

‘Ready-meals’ the cookalicious way 29 March 2006

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, general info, help, Info and Cooks Notes.
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freeze-friendlySo the world has gone 'ready-meal' crazy, how can you resist the temptation of the microwave and rows and rows of well-photographed gourmet dinners at the touch of a button (no washing up!)? If all the disposable packaging itself isn't enough to put you off, then how about knowing that corporations are controlling the quality and purity of the food you eat? Well, in case you wondering, I am not a fan.

There is a solution which works well if you put in a little effort. The simple rule is: whenever you're cooking something, ask yourself if it would freeze well, or refrigerate for another day and if so, make more than you need.

So, when I'm making a Chicken curry, I'll make it a large one. Then I'll also put on a Lamb curry too, often this involves many of the same ingredients, throw in some different veg with each pot and cook them up for slightly different times (Lamb benefits from a long stew in the curry broth). Two different curries make for a more interesting meal to put on the table. Crucially, I can also portion them up into containers to freeze or refrigerate for another day – instant 'ready-meals', only made to my own (high!) specifications, no funny stuff!

Obviously some dishes are ideal for freezing and reheating, others not. I wouldn't recommend making extra stir-fry vegetables, such delicate food is best cooked up fresh every time. Meals that freeze well include: meat and vegetable curries and stews, meat sauces (such as bolognese, chilli con carne), home made beef-burgers and big dishes such as cauliflower cheese, fish pie and lasagne.

I'll be putting an icon by meals I think are worth making on an 'eat one, freeze one' basis, so 'freeze-friendly' is now a cookalicious category.

At last, you don't have to cook every night!

Thai Recipes > Soups > Tom Kha 24 February 2006

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, mildly spicy, Recipes, Thai food, thai soups, variations.
6 comments

Mildly SpicyTom Kha Gaifreeze-friendly
(Coconut and Galangal Soup with Chicken)

Serves 4 as a lunch with steamed rice, or as a dish in a main meal

Ingredients:
400g (approx.) Chicken (skinned and boned) – cut into long, thin strips across the grain
Coconut milk – up to 2 tins (depends on how rich or fluid you like your soup)
Chicken or Vegetable Stock – approx. 250mls (half a pint)
3 stalks Lemongrass – lower third only, cut into 1-inch pieces
Galangal (Ginza, Pink Ginger) – peeled, at least 6 slices, approx. 5mm thick
Chillies – green or red, any size, any number (large slices or whole for a mild flavour, finely chopped for more heat)
Mushrooms – cut into segments/slices (oyster mushrooms
3 Snake Beans or a handful of long beans – cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves Garlic – crushed (optional)
1 Spring onion – sliced into diagonal chunks
5 Kaffir lime leaves – remove the stalk and tear roughly
Thai sweet basil – handful of leaves, roughly torn (optional)
Coriander – 1 small bunch, finely chop the root and stalk, roughly chop the leaves
Juice of 1 lime (to taste)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

Method:

  1. Shake the tins of coconut milk to mix, add 1 tin to the stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the mushrooms, ginza and lemongrass and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  3. Add the chillies, garlic (if using) and spring onion to the broth, this part of the broth can be simmered gently for a few minutes or as long as needed, add more coconut milk and/or stock or water to the broth to achieve the desired fluidity.
  4. Add the chicken, cook for 5 minutes on a fairly high heat, stirring as required until the chicken has turned white.
  5. Add the kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce; simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
  6. Add the chopped coriander stalk and root, bring back to a high boil to combine. Switch off the heat.
  7. Add the basil (if using) and coriander leaves and stir.
  8. Add lime juice to taste.
  9. Garnish with sliced large chillies, basil and coriander leaves.

Serve with fresh steamed thai fragrant rice and raw beansprouts.

Variations:

The dish can be made for vegetarians: use vegetable stock and varieties of mushroom (i.e oyster and shitake), asparagus, baby corn or other seasonal vegetables in place of chicken stock. Use soy instead of fish sauce.
Add the main vegetables to the finished broth (at stage 5) and simmer gently, before adding herbs and garnishing once the vegetables are cooked.

This dish is traditionally served mildly spicy, but spicier versions work really well too.

Italian-Style Variation: Try Tom Kha Gai as a sauce for pasta (e.g. linguine or tagliatelle). You will need to cut back on the liquid (stock and/or coconut milk) and reduce the sauce down or thicken it with a small spoon of cornflour mixed with a dash of water to achieve a creamy consistency. Stir into the cooked pasta and serve with the garnish.
Particularly good served spicy!