30 June 2012

Tom Yam Soup

Winter is upon us, last week the garden was carpeted in bright autumnal colours and the tress were covered in shades of red and gold.  Just a few days later all the leaves are gone and the trees are bare.  To refresh the spirit hot and spicy was what I was craving and tom yam soup hit the spot.  Hot and sour with lots of bright, fresh vegetables is how I like my tom yam soup.

This is my version so I don’t pretend that it is wholly authentic, or actually anywhere even close to authentic.  Typically tom yam or tom yum soup is a spicy clear broth commonly found  in Laos and Thailand, but versions can also be found in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  Tom refers to soup and yum is a spicy and sour salad so tom yam soup is a hot and sour soup, and that is what this soup delivers in spades.  That wonderful spicy, hot, sour combination that is innately Thai. The broth is traditionally spiked with lemon grass, kaffir lime, galangal, lime, chilli and, my personal favourite, fish sauce. As always you can adjust the quantities to suit your own taste.
Tom Yam Soup

Serves 2

4 cups vegetable, chicken of fish stock
4 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn
1  stalk lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
1 thumbnail of ginger, julienned
1 thai chilli or long red chilli, finely sliced
16 raw prawns 
1 tbsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 red pepper julienned
1/2 yellow pepper julienned
1/2 carrot julienned
1 pac choy, thinly sliced
A few coriander leaves and sliced red chilli to serve

Warm the stock and add the shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger and chilli.  Bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
Add the prawns and cook them for 2 -3 minutes until pink and cooked through.  Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to to suit your own taste.  
Place the peppers, carrots and pac choy in the bottom of a soup bowl and then pour over the broth and the prawns.  The warmth of the broth will be enough to warm through the vegetables and leave them fresh and crunchy.

Scatter over a few coriander leaves and some freshly sliced chilli and then tuck in. This is a soup to warm the cockles of your heart and to banish any winter blues. It should fend do off any  colds and bugs too. The spiciness livens everything up and leaves you revived and refreshed.

If you like this you might like this Ginger Chilli Chicken
Two years ago Supper Club


26 June 2012

Sauteed Kale with Poached Egg

After a busy week, a Saturday all to myself and I relished the peace and the quiet and maybe celebrating a little that I am over the Winter hump!  Well my Winter hump, Winter may have a couple of months to go, but for me it is the shorter days that get me.  Getting up in the dark, coming home in the dark, these shorter days somehow make everything weigh a little heavier. It is not even that bad here in New Zealand and winter has certainly been of the milder variety. We may not get the extremely long summer days that the northern hemisphere enjoys but that does means on the other side of the coin the shorter days here are not quite as extreme either.  Still I always struggle a little with June, well until the 21 June and the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year here in New Zealand.  Now each day we will collect a few more moments of day light as we edge ever closer to spring.  For me that is enough to make each day just a little bit better and a little less heavy.  One should indeed take the time, even if just a few moments, to appreciate the small things.

Another of life's simple pleasures is the perfectly poached egg.  Cutting in to that little white pocket, the golden yolk spilling over hot buttered toast or in this case over a kale spiked with chilli and garlic has to be one of the best starts to any day, it really can't help but put a smile on your face.

Another thing that makes me smile is this blog, the culinary diary it provides, marking moments in time and not to forget all the lovely people I have met.  It really has been quite a wonderful journey so far. Food really does bring people together even virtually, it does indeed put the social in to social media.  And today it makes me smile a little more as we celebrate our second anniversary together. Happy Birthday Toast!

Sauteed Kale with a Poached Egg

This is a quick and easy breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper and hardly  even a recipe as such.

Serves 1

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 red chilli, diced
2 cups kale, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 egg, gently poached
2 slices, sourdough toasted


Heat the olive oil over a low to medium heat in a small frying pan.  Add the garlic and chilli and sauté for a couple of moments.  Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the kale is wilted and cooked through.

Meanwhile toast the sourdough and poach your egg.  For me I add vinegar to the water and follow the swirling method.

Butter your toast, top with the kale and then the poached egg.

This is one satisfying breakfast.  The golden yolk spilling through the kale is indeed one of life's simple pleasures.  And add to that hot buttered toast and a little chilli kick and for me you have a match made in heaven!  Which of life's simple pleasures makes you smile?

If you like this you might like this Huevos con Chile / Mexican Scramble
One year ago Benne Wafers
Two years ago Where to begin


23 June 2012

Apple Tarte Tatin with Salted Caramel Sauce

This is one of my favourite desserts and if you like puddings I am sure it could very quickly become one of yours too.  Golden puff pastry, soft caramelised fruit and chewy little bits of caramel; this really is a heavenly dessert. It was allegedly invented by the Tatin sisters in France.  As the story goes one of them was making an apple tart but left it in the oven a little too long.  To save the day she turned it upside down...et voila Tart Tatin and a crowd pleaser! 

There is caramel making but just take your time and you will be fine. Along with a good dollop of whipped cream  or vanilla ice cream and to take it to a whole new level of decadence I highly recommend whipping up a batch of Nigella’s Salted Caramel Sauce.  It can be whipped up in a few moments & you can find the recipe here.  Go on....you will thank me, I promise.  This would also be amazing just warmed and drizzled over some vanilla ice cream, or layered with whipped cream between meringues, or you could just eat it with a spoon....
Apple* Tarte Tatin with Salted Caramel Sauce, inspired by various incarnations from all over the place
*Experiment! Quince, peaches, plums, apricots, pears....
Serves 6- 8 

500g puff pastry
5 small eating apples
100g golden caster sugar
100ml water
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways, seeds,scraped out
50g butter, cubed
A bowl of acidulated water*
*3/4 fill a medium sized bowl with water and add the juice of  a lemon.

Preheat your oven to 190C/375F
Roll out your puff pastry between 2 pieces of baking paper until it is about half a centimetre thick and large enough to cover either and oven proof frying pan or tart tin, and set aside.
Peel the apples, halve them horizontally and use a teaspoon to get rid of the seeds and core.  Once peeled and cored place them in the acidulated water, it will just stop any browning.
Place the ovenproof or regular frying pan on a medium heat and add the sugar, water, vanilla seeds and pod. Let the sugar dissolve and cook until the mixture forms a light caramel. Don’t touch or taste hot caramel, it is very, very hot and can burn really badly.  Once the caramel is golden add the apples and gently stir to coat the apples in the caramel. Cook for 10 minutes and then add the butter, quickly and gently give it a mix to melt the butter.  If your frying pan is oven proof just place the pastry over the top and tuck it down at the edges, carefully with a wooden spoon to avoid burning yourself with the scalding hot caramel.  If your frying pan is not oven proof carefully and gently transfer the apples and caramel to a tart tin and top with pastry.

Bake the tarte tatin for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, with crispy caramelly pieces bubbling up from under the edges. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  Next comes the fun part, the turning out, again just be careful with all that hot caramel.  Grab your serving plate or a board larger than your pan and put an oven glove on to protect the arm holding the board. Place the board or plate on top of the pan, then carefully turn it out.   Leave for a few moments to allow the caramel to settle and cool a little.  Drizzle the whole tart with some of Nigella’s Salted Caramel Sauce and serve with generous dollops of whipped cream.

Well there was none left of the large tarte tatin but a little left over pastry and another apple made a couple of baby ones that you can see in the photos.

Sweet caramelised buttery apples, golden puff pastry all drizzled with salted caramel sauce and whipped cream....I don't think I really need to say anymore!

This is also my entry for this months Sweet New Zealand, this month being hosted by Shirleen over at Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice.

If you like this you might like this Brown Buttered Apple and Rosemary Cake
One year ago Pesto Pesto


17 June 2012

Sprout and Chickpea Salad with Yoghurt and Toasted Sumac Pita

After all those hearty soups I was in the mood for a little lighter fare and some sort of salad was going to the order of the day, also craving healthy and nourishing. However lettuce was not going to cut it and I spotted some sprouts and fresh chickpeas at the local whole food store.  Fresh chickpeas are quite different to those out of a can. Fresher, a great crunch and a little pea sweetness that you just don't get out of a can.  Highly recommend them if you come across them to liven up any salad. 

The sumac adds an additional citrusy punch. Sumac is actually a dark red purplish fruit that grows in clusters.  It is then sun dried and stored until they shrivel up before bing ground to a powder.  The storing allows it to develop its sour, tart taste. In the distant past it was used by Egyptians to add a citrus like flavour to their dishes before the advent of lemons. 

So without further ado...

Sprout and Chickpea Salad with Yoghurt and Toasted Sumac Pita

Serves 2

For the yoghurt
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup rocket (arugula), chopped
1 small bunch chives, chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sumac

For the salad
1 cup mung beans or other sprouts
1 cup fresh chickpeas (or you could use canned, but the fresh ones are so much better!)
1 cup rocket
1 spring onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp sumac
Toasted pita bread to serve.  
Drizzle some pita with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac and toast under a grill until golden and toasty. Keep any on them as there's a fine line between toasty and charred.

Place the yoghurt, rocket, chives, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl and mix to combine.  Season with a salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
In a medium bowl add the mung beans, chickpeas, spring onion and red pepper.  Add the lemon juice, zest and olive oil and mix well to combine and season with salt and pepper. Place the salad in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds and a scattering of sumac.
Serve the salad with the yoghurt on the side along with the toasted pita bread.

This salad hit the spot. Bright and zesty, crunchy with just a little sweetness from the chickpeas. Piled a top the sumac pita and drizzled with a little of the yoghurt it was a fresh and satisfying little lunch. 

If you like this you might like this Cracked Wheat, Roast Pumpkin & Feta Salad
One year ago Spinach Strata


12 June 2012

Orange and Olive Lamb Shanks

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”  Edith Sitwell

Things to love about winter....there are a few, much as I prefer the longer Summer days and balmy evenings.  For me it would be open fires, soup in all it's incarnations, wrapped up warm for bright and crisp mornings at One Tree Hill, fragrant tangines, red wine, beef bourguignon, baked potatoes, mid Winter Christmas parties*, snuggled up under a blanket** with a good book, scarves - I have a lot of scarves, a steaming mug of hot chocolate, celeriac puree preferably with a drizzle of brown butter, quiet nights in all rugged up, citrus, my hibiscus that refuses to believe it is actually Winter and lamb shanks.  

My tried and true is here, rich and tender meat falling off the bone brightened with a little gremolata,  but I felt like it was time to broaden the lamb shanks horizons and I came across this version from the Italian master in the orange crocs.  An alchemist at bring together a few simple ingredients creating something so much great than the sum of their parts.  This is perfect dish to be bubbling away on the stove on a Sunday afternoon while you curl up on the sofa with a good book.

*Here in New Zealand a mid winter christmas gives us all a chance to properly enjoy a Christmas feast, it is just not quite the same without the requisite cold weather!

**Or just snuggled

Orange and Olive Lamb Shanks, from Mario Batali*

*minimally tweaked due to what I had on hand and what I forgot! Canned cherry tomatoes replace homemade tomato sauce, kalamata olives replace gaeta olive oh and I totally forgot the chicken stock.  However, no ill effects and a perfect winter warmer on a lazy Sunday afternoon!

Serves 4


4 lamb shanks
Salt and pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, diced
8 cloves garlic
2 oranges, cut in to 8 wedges
2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives
1 cup dry white wine
1 tin cherry tomatoes*

*the cherry tomatoes add a lovely sweetness, however a tin if regular chopped tomatoes would be quite delicious too.


Pre heat the over to 180C/375F

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  In a large dutch oven or heavy based saucepan add the olive and heat over a medium heat.  Add the lamb shanks and brown them well.  It will take 10-15 minutes.  Turn them occasionally to make sure they are browned on all sides. Once browned remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions, garlic and orange wedges to the pan and sauté for 5-10 minutes until softened.  Add the rosemary, olives, white wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Return the lamb shanks to the pot and cover tightly.  Place in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is almost falling off the bone.

Serve with a pile of mashed potato or celeriac mash for a wonderful winter warming dinner.  The orange provides a wonderful brightness and then a briny saltiness from the olives.

If you like this you might like this Curried Beef Stew
One year ago Caramelised Fennel and Goat Cheese


10 June 2012

Warm Red and Green (And Good for You) Rice

So thankful that the weekend has arrived and I am about to relish a little quite time after a busy, and at times frustrating week.  Time to let all the worries and stress of work go, well for 48 hours anyway, to relax and recharge.  Time to nourish both body and soul.  I came across this quote just this morning which nicely sums up how I plan to spend my weekend and enter next week refreshed, recharged and ready to face the week.

'As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the callings of my soul.' 
Dr. Wayne Dyer 

I was also lucky enough to be at a breakfast where Dr Libby Weaver was speaking on Friday morning.  What an inspiring woman, and it is indeed all about listening to your body, and that is what I will be doing this weekend.

I seem to have come across a few variations of green rice of late, here and here. After a busy and not so healthy week (just a little too much of the not so good stuff) I took it as a sign for my body and soul craving something a little more green and good. I then came across red rice at the local health food store and it became a red and green rice so to speak.  So if you don't have red rice brown rice will work too. This is best mixed when still warm to allow all the flavours to meld and then served warm or at room temperature.

Warm Red and Green (And Good for You) Rice

Serves 4


2 cups broccoli florets, little bite sized florets*
1/2 cup chives, chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup cooked red or brown rice
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
To serve
Smoked paprika, optional

* I also found some lovely green broccoflower and mixed a little of that in.


Cook the broccoli and broccoflower, if using, in boiling salted water for just a few minutes, just cooked but still with a little crunch. Drain, run under cold water to stop them cooking further and set aside.

Place the chives, parsley, olive oil, Dijon, lemon zest and juice in a food processor and season with salt and pepper.  Whizz until you have a beautiful green vinaigrette and set aside.

Place the spinach in a large bowl and add the broccoli and broccoflower.  Add a couple of tablespoons of the vinaigrette and gently mix together with some tongs.  Add the mint rice and almost all the almonds and stir gently together with another couple of tablespoons of vinaigrette.  Taste and check seasoning.  Drizzle with a little more dressing and a scattering of toasted almonds along with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

I think a generous sprinkle of sumac in place of the smoked paprika would work a treat as well.

Well this was just what I was needing, satisfying and comforting yet green and nourishing all at the same time.  Full of flavour and texture, all wrapped up in zesty, herby vinaigrette.

If you like this you might like this Mujaddara with Spiced Yoghurt

One Year Ago Braised Lamb Shanks


Cook the peas and broccoli in boiling salted water for just a few minutes until cooked but retaining a little crunch
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