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Cook This: Chicken Rice Noodles with Peanuts, Chilli & Coriander

You know how it is. You have leftovers, and you need to use them. Or you are tired, and all you want to do is use the leftovers. Either way, this is leftover city and we have to use them up. Leftovers get a bad rep but they are the best thing in a kitchen. Flavours are usually at their best the next day, at the very least they can be livened up quickly and you can have a terrific meal in minutes. 

Take a chicken. Say, leftover roast chicken. So good on its own, wonderful with mayo and stuffing in a sandwich, but what about looking East and giving it a little heat, then pumping it awake with some aromatics, some nuts for texture (I am putting peanuts in everything at the moment) and you have a dish that will make you want to roast a chicken and not eat it, but save it for this. Of course you can just roast a chicken thigh for one person to order, which I also did today.

Plus, isn’t it hot? I want something refreshing, bright and quick. This takes 10 minutes to put together and I have eaten this three times since I came up with it last week. Rice noodles with shredded chicken, fried peanuts, spring onions, a little hot chilli, a pinch and punch of garlic and ginger, tickle of fresh coriander, lick of fish sauce and sprinkle of fresh lime. 

Sounds good, right? Here is how. 

Recipe: Chicken Rice Noodles with Peanuts, Chilli & Coriander

Serves 2 

Ingredients

100g thick rice noodles (thin will do fine too)
300g leftover chicken, shredded
1 chilli, as hot as you like, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp peanuts (peeled or unpeeled are fine)
4 spring onions, chopped finely
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
juice of one lime and extra lime wedges to serve
2 tbsp good fish sauce
sea salt to taste
light oil for frying

1 tbsp fresh mint leaves (optional – they give another fresh layer)

Method

Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions (mine needed to be soaked in boiling water for 12 minutes).

Sauté the chicken and peanuts in a little light oil for a few minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the spring onions, stir through, then add the noodles. Mix until well combined. Add the lime and fish sauce and taste for seasoning. The fish sauce acts as a salt (it has a lot of salt in) so you may not need any. Adjust lime and fish sauce for your taste if required. Finish with the coriander and mint (if using), stirring through, and serve with an extra lime wedge on the side.

Enjoy! This eats really well hot or cold. Perfect lunch or picnic food too.

Caldereta de Langosta at Es Cranc in Menorca

A Perfect Sunday Lunch: Caldereta de Langosta in Menorca at Es Cranc (Traditional Lobster Soup + a Recipe)

On a quiet street in Fornells in Menorca is an unassuming restaurant, Es Cranc. Es Cranc has a large menu, but most come here for the Caldereta de Langosta, a popular lobster soup from Menorca made with the native blue spiny lobsters which Es Cranc is particularly well regarded for.

Caldereta gets its name from the pot that it is cooked in, a caldera. Traditionally this was a fishermans dish, cooked with the broken lobsters that they had caught. Now, it is a luxury and an indulgence, cooked at home for special occasions and at specialist restaurants like Es Cranc in Fornells.

Behind a side door next to Es Cranc is a path that meanders to a room of large water baths, and these are full of spiny lobster. Spinning and weaving, large and small, these lobsters are mostly destined for the caldereta, some will be served simply grilled on their own. This is where the fishermen deliver their catch, for Es Cranc that is 5 different day boats that go out up to 7 miles out to sea. . 

Es Cranc was full on the Sunday that I went for lunch. Jovial large tables with extended families, all there for the caldereta. The soup has a base of tomato, onions and green pepper, and is light and fruity, with lovely lobster cooked just so inside, still sweet and tender. It is served on top of thin sun dried slices of bread, like crackers. A bib is provided – and you need it. We had some lovely local white wine on the side.  

The langosta lobsters can only be fished between March and August, so pencil it in your diary for then. Alternatively, you can recreate it at home. One of my favourite food writers Claudia Roden has a lovely recipe for caldereta from her superb book The Food of Spain. She serves it with a picada of almonds, garlic and parsley. Here it is for your Sunday lunch pleasure. Lets let the sunshine in, even if it doesn’t want to be here!

Notes on the recipe: As above, this recipe is adapted from Claudia’s Caldereta de Langosta in The Food of Spain. Claudia includes monkfish and fennel which I have omitted (including extra lobster instead) so that it is closer to the one that I had. Buy your lobsters just before you need them and have your fishmonger kill and chop them for you into chunks just over an inch. The sun refuses to play frequently enough for us to sun dry the bread, and even though it is considered a cheat in Menorca to roast it, if they were here, they would have to too! :)

Recipe: Caldereta de Langosta

Serves 6

Ingredients 

For the caldereta

3 x 700g raw live lobsters (as your butcher to prepare them as per the notes above)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper,cored, seeded, and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
350g tomatoes (4 to 5),peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 litre fish stock
125ml brandy or cognac
salt and pepper

For the picada

12 blanched almonds
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
4 tbsp brandy or cognac

One good baguette, sliced into narrow slices and toasted or roasted in a medium hot oven until crisp

Method

Fry the onion and the pepper in the oil in a large pot (I used my shallow casserole which was the closest I had to a caldera) over a low heat until very soft. Add the tomatoes and sugar and cook until the sauce is reduced and jammy. Blend until well combined (in the pan with a hand blender or a food processor – whatever you have, you can mash coarsely if you have neither).

Meanwhile, for the picada: Fry the almonds and garlic in the oil in a small skillet over low heat for moments only, turning them once, until they are golden. Pound them to a paste with the parsley in a mortar, or blend them to a paste, and add the brandy.

Add the fish stock and brandy to the tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper. Add the lobster, and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes and stir the picada into the lobster soup. When the lobster shells are bright red and the meat is firm the soup is done, this will take only a few more minutes at most. Take care not to overcook it, lobster is best when tender.

Serve immediately in bowls with the bread and savour your work. A crisp white wine or rosé perfect this. Aim for a Menorcan or Spanish one :)

Easyjet have just launched direct flights from London Southend to Mahon.

I travelled to Menorca as part of a project between iAmbassador and Visit Menorca, who sponsored this project.  As always, I’m free to write what I like and I do! Life is short etc. :)

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Hot and Sour Chicken (In Partnership with Brita)

This is a carefully selected sponsored post, and is the fifth of five in a sponsored series that I am working on with BRITA as part of their Better with BRITA campaign. In this post, I share my hot and sour chicken recipe. For more information on sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl, please have a look here

I call this hot and sour chicken, not because it is following a hot and sour recipe from a particular place, but because I am using hot and sour flavours, and some of my favourites too. It is my hot and sour chicken, from my kitchen.

Chilli, garlic, tamarind, some savoury light fish sauce and lime make this chicken sing. A sprinkle of coriander lifts it right up before you serve it. Some fried or roasted peanuts for the texture, because you can, and because they are awesome. A little shredded spring onion (or scallions as I once knew them) freshen everything again. That says summer to me. The flavours sprinkle and mingle and dance as you eat them.

Use good chicken, as good as you can. A whole chicken, jointed yourself, or have your butcher do this for you. Or you can use a selection of legs and thighs as I have done. Marinade for an hour or two, no more, acidic marinades can toughen the meat over more time (and most marinades are acidic in part), plus they can make the surface of the meat mushy (by denaturing the proteins, but lets not worry about the detail). I use gorgeous fresh tamarind in the marinade, and BRITA filtered water to soften it and ease it out (reasons to use BRITA filtered water when cooking are in a previous post). If you can’t source fresh tamarind, tamarind extract will do just fine. 

That is all the prep done. Now we can relax. Then before cooking, we add a little cornflour to dry it out, and help the skin crisp a little better. Then roast, grill or chuck it on the BBQ. I roasted mine before freshening it with coriander, spring onion, peanuts and zingy but not so hot fruity chillies as I served it. 

Pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Gorgeous with a crisp wine (gewurztraminer, riesling, maybe even a crisp Provence rosé), a beer, or some lovely flavoured waters. Just make sure you have lots of it.

Enjoy!

Hot and Sour Chicken

Serves 4 or 2 hungry people (you know how this goes!)

Ingredients

1kg jointed chicken or chicken legs and thighs, skin on
3 tbsp cornflour
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
3 tbsp peanuts – fried in their skins, or roasted but not heavily seasoned
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 mild red chilli, finely sliced

Marinade:
5 pieces of fresh tamarind or 1 tbsp tamarind extract + 100ml BRITA filtered water, recently boiled
1 fresh lime, zest and juice
chilli, as hot as you can handle (I used 1 fruity mild one and one hot finger chilli)
1 tbsp fish sauce

sea salt
light oil for the roasting tray

Method

Peel the fresh tamarind and soak the flesh in the boiling water (100ml is a rough approximation, you basically want to just cover it), for 20 minutes. Push the flesh through a sieve.

Add the lime juice, zest, chilli and fish sauce and mix. Taste and adjust accordingly for your taste.

Add the chicken and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Leave covered in the fridge for an hour. Then let it sit at room temperature for 15 – 20 minutes (so that it cooks evenly). Salt lightly (the fish sauce is salty already).

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Add the cornflour and toss through (this will help the skin crisp a little).

Arrange on a lightly oiled roasting tray, skin side up and roast for 35 – 45 minutes until crisp and cooked through.

Serve with the chilli, coriander, spring onions and peanuts sprinkled on top.

Enjoy!

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A Postcard from Myanmar (aka Burma)

I am deep in jet lag and ache in most places, but my spirits are light after 9 days on the road. I went back to Asia just 10 days after I returned from Borneo (I know, I would have stayed in between but I just didn’t have the time). It was a short intense trip as I zipped around Myanmar (aka Burma) via Singapore, to experience the food culture there.

Myanmar, Burma? Well why the two names anyway, right? Which is correct? There are two theories for the Burma name, one that the British couldn’t pronounce Myanmar when they arrived in 1824 and so renamed it to Burma, the second that Burma relates closely to the name of the predominant Bamar tribe. There are 135 ethnic groups in Burma, Bamar form 68% followed by Shan at 9% so they are significant to the culture at large. Myanmar was the original name and it is the official name now so I will stick with that. Read More

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A Dal to Stay at Home For (with Curry Leaves, Mustard, Chilli & Tomato)

I adore a spiced breakfast. I indulged as much as I could in Malaysia recently, from curries to laksa to curry mee to nasi lemak to roti canai with dal. When I am in Asia, breakfast is my favourite meal. It has so much flavour, so much variety and is always an adventure.

I love a good dal, an Indian spiced lentil soup, cooked until tender but still with texture, just so. Mostly lentils, sometimes beans, my favourite is made with the small moong dal. A bowl of sunshine, dal is bright and cheerful with turmeric, a culinary equivalent of the best duvet on a cold night. On top, spice dancing on tip toes, some herbs, whatever I have got. This is called the tarka (or tadka), the spice mixture that gives dal character and zing. And in my experience, while it is great to be authentic, variety is very interesting here, the dal can take any flavour.

I sometimes add ginger and garlic to my spices for an extra flavour punch, I sometimes add an egg for more body and sustenance (usually boiled until soft, halved and served on top). Today I kept it very simple, some nice dried chillies with just enough heat and rehydrated a touch, some brown mustard seeds, some small tomatoes, fried quickly, just enough to absorb the spice flavour and soften a bit and curry leaves, cooked until just starting to crisp and so fragrant.

There is lots of mixed advice as to when you salt a dal and as to whether you should soak it first. Soaking isn’t essential but it does save on cooking time and results in a speedy soft dal. I salt a little at the start, and add turmeric then too, but I season to taste properly at the end. Some say that salt can toughen the pulses, but this hasn’t been my experience, and I like the dal to take up a little seasoning as it cooks.

Notes on the recipe: Moong dal is widely available in supermarkets, Indian food shops and online too. Curry leaves are widely available in London, I can get them in my local supermarket. If you can’t get them, you could try dried online, which still have great flavour. Or substitute and entirely different but suitable flavour, fresh coriander. This is incredibly good value and a great comfort eat. Enjoy!

Recipe: Dal with Curry Leaves, Mustard, Chilli & Tomato

Serves 2 generous portions or 1 person on repeat for a day (yup – that was me!)

Ingredients

Dal

200g moong dal (small yellow lentils, larger chana dal will work fine too)
1 heaped tsp turmeric powder
sea salt to taste

Tarka

2 tbsp brown mustard seeds
12 good small tomatoes halved or quartered depending on how small they are
a handful of curry leaves, removed from the stem
chilli of your choice, finely chopped (seeds in or our, up to you, depending on how hot you like it)
ghee or butter or coconut oil (coconut oil is a great substitute for lactose intolerants and vegans, I quite like the flavour)

Method

If you have time, soak the moong dal with the turmeric and a little salt in about twice their volume of water. If you don’t, don’t worry, it will just take a little longer to cook.

Bring the dal to a boil over a medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. Season to taste.

Melt your fat of choice for the tarka and add the mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes for a final couple of minutes and serve on top of the dal, which should still be nice and hot.

Enjoy!

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Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo [Video]

I spend a wonderful 4 days in Abruzzo earlier this year cooking and eating with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo. I was working on a recipe based project with the tourist board, and we put together a video of my trip there. Enjoy! 

See my previous Abruzzo post: Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat

I visited Abruzzo with Visit Abruzzo to explore the region and shoot a video with them, which I will share shortly. Londoners can fly to Pescara in Abruzzo from London Stansted, or you can drive (or get a bus) from Rome.

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Speedy Summer Supper of Rice Noodles with Chilli Pork & Peanuts

Jet lag hit hard and so did a salmonella relapse, something that I didn’t even know could happen. Roll on Sunday morning where I finally felt nearly human, and decided to embrace the world by heading to gorgeous Columbia Road Flower Market in East London with a friend.

If you have not been, Columbia Road Flower Market is a joyful place and a London landmark in the East End. It is a small street, lined now with cafés and restaurants, and packed with flower sellers known for their enthusiasm and high spirits as they attempt to engage the heaving mass of passers by. It gets very busy. Thronged. Read More

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Dispatches from Kuching and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo

So where were we? Oh yes, the blog turned 8, I got salmonella poisoning (separate incident!) which unfortunately is still lurking, and then I had a birthday too. A significant birthday, no guessing, lets just say it warranted a very big celebration and a long one. What better than to skip off to Borneo and spend my last day of the year before the significant one (a-hem) with orangutans, then spend my birthday itself eating laksa and satay and all sorts of other wonderful Malaysian things.

Sarawak is the other Malaysian province of Borneo. You will remember that I have already been to Sabah, and I loved it. I liked Brunei a lot too. I especially fell head over heels for long haired ginger men of the forests (gasp! no, that means orangutans whose name literally translates as that). I was so lucky this time, I saw so many, which is very unusual. This is because it isn’t fruit season so they tend to come to the feeding platforms to eat.

Read More

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Recipe: Passatelli in Brodo (AKA Parmesan Noodles in Wonderful Chicken Broth)

My first taste of this dish in Emilia Romagna awoke a hunger in me that I didn’t know I had. A new desire was immediately satisfied. Spoonfuls of broth, some gorgeous textured parmesan noodles, and repeat. Until the bowl is empty and the world feels sad. But, then you have more, and the cycle starts again. Passatelli in brodo is rich and light, sustaining and so satisfying.

I adore chicken soup but this is so much more. This is chicken broth with noodles made from parmesan, nutmeg and breadcrumbs coasting inside. Why aren’t we all obsessed with this? Why isn’t it one of those dishes that every one talks about? Deeply flavoured and rich in umami, passatelli bring this chicken soup to life and soothe unlike any other.

I first learned to make this in a hands on pasta class at La Piazzetta del Gusto in Nonantola, a gorgeous local restaurant in a pretty small town near Modena. The town square is full of elderly men chatting and passing the time jovially. Just beyond it is La Piazzetta del Gusto, a restaurant and a pasta shop. All the pasta is rolled by hand every day, and the restaurant itself specialises in passatelli.

Passatelli? I was intrigued. We started with hand rolled tortelloni, then out came the breadcrumbs, parmesan, flour, eggs and nutmeg, which we kneaded lightly to makes passatelli dough. These are so easy. Once the dough is made, you push it through a passatelli press, old style or more commonly now a potato press with large holes, also used for passatelli, and snip the noodles over and into the water. So good.

There are many ways that you can serve them, my favourite is with a classic chicken broth. A winter dish in Emilia Romagna, primarily, I think it suits our 4 seasons in a day summer quite well too.

Passatelli recipe adapted from La Piazzetta del Gusto in Nonantola, Emilia Romagna

Recipe: Passatelli in Brodo (AKA Parmesan Noodles in Wonderful Chicken Broth)

Ingredients

Passatelli (enough for two generous portions)

75g breadcrumbs
85g parmesan
2 eggs
25g pasta flour
sea salt
fresh grated nutmeg
a passatelli press / potato press (I bought this passatelli press on Amazon)

Chicken broth (more than you need – you can freeze leftovers!)

a large pot – I have a home stock pot which I use lots and recommending investing in
Raw chicken – approx 1.5kg carcasses, whole chicken (save the meat for another use if using this) or chicken wings (perfect as have lots of skin and fat so superb flavour)
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
4 sticks celery, coarsely chopped
3 onions, peeled & coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
a teaspoon of peppercorns (I used white as that is what I had, black are good too)

Method

Make your chicken broth by putting all ingredients into a pot that will fit them, and topping up with water until everything is just covered. Cover with a lit and boil for at least 2 hours, the longer the better. Strain when done and season to taste with sea salt.
Leave to the side. (If using a whole chicken, remove the meat from the carcass and save for another use).

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Make your passatelli by combining everything in a bowl and bringing together to a soft pliable dough.

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Heat enough stock for more than two bowls of soup and press the passatelli into it, cutting with a knife when a few inches long. The passatelli will rise to the top, and will be ready to eat a couple of minutes later. If you are making just for one, only press enough into the soup for you, and then press them onto a board, lightly flour, and store on a single layer to use within 3 days. The passatelli become flabby when left in the broth, so best to do it this way.

Now eat. How good is that?!

I visited Emilia Romagna as part of Blogville, sponsored by the Emilia Romagna Tourist Board in partnership with  iambassador.  I maintain full editorial control of the content published, as always. I wouldn’t waste your time, or my own! 

The morning view over  the Maiella from Agriturismo Caniloro in Abruzzo

Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat

Have you been to Abruzzo in Italy? Do you know of Abruzzo? It is surprising that given the vibrance of the region, particularly in terms of food, and that it is only a 2 hour drive from Rome, that only a few are blazing the tourist trail from outside Italy, when you compare it to other regions.

Abruzzo is where Italians go on holiday and it is a gem. I visited on a whistle stop tour to shoot some video with Visit Abruzzo in the early Spring. All I could think on my return was, I wish that I had brought a bigger suitcase to bring stuff home (Abruzzo has wonderful wine, pasta, truffles and saffron, just to start), and it must not be long until I return again.

Abruzzo has seaside villages, snow capped mountain top towns (with only half an hour between them), and small towns threaded by winding country roads in between. There are cities too, but they won’t overwhelm you. Pescara, where I flew into, is small, buzzing and friendly. I arrived in the evening and had my first meal at Locanda Manthonè, a highly regarded local restaurant serving produce from the region. Sagne e fagioli was a perfect pasta dish with locally farmed beans and a hint of chilli (which features in the cuisine here like much of Southern Italy). Gallo all cafona (cockerel cooked contadini style) followed. A perfect start and wonderful introduction to the food of Abruzzo.

Locanda Manthonè, Corso Gabriele Manthone, 58, 65127 Pescara PE, Italy

The next morning we headed to Mosciano Sant’Angelo in Teramo to cook and have lunch at Borgo Spoltino. The restaurant, surrounded by fields and olive trees and with a view of Gran Sasso, has a beautiful kitchen garden where we began our day gathering ingredients for lunch. The chef and his mother cooked lunch with us, there is nothing quite like learning from an Italian Nonna, especially when it comes to pasta. We made a hand rolled and cut local pasta, the sagne from the night before, served this time with locally grown lentils. The chef demonstrated every dish, which we then ate in the dining room. So charming, and all served with lovely local wines also.

Borgo Spoltino, Strada Provinciale 15, Provincia di Teramo, Italy

We hit the road again, and headed for Civitella del Tronto, a village in the mountains, and home to a large ancient fortress which was literally in the clouds on my visit. It snowed that night, and we woke to a silent dreamy landscape where bright reaching rays of sun tried to wake up the land. I cooked with another local chef at Zunica 1880 where we made a saffron carbonara (saffron grows abundantly in Abruzzo. An interesting twist on a local favourite (there is some dispute between Lazio and Abruzzo about the origins of this dish).

Zunica 1880, Piazza Filippi Pepe, 14, 64010 Civitella del Tronto TE, Italy

A slow careful drive through the snow the next morning while I admired and soaked up the gorgeous views, brought us to the seaside. The weather was unusual and the normally calm sea was wild, which I quite liked, it reminded me of my own Atlantic. I cooked brodetto alla vastese with Maria, near their trabocchi, a fishing structure that dips nets into the sea, unique to Abruzzo. Farmers, who were afraid of the water, developed this technique to harvest fish from the sea. Brodetto alla vastese is a lovely tomato based fish soup made with a selection of fish sourced locally.

Cooking class organised by Italia Sweet Italia, and highly recommended.

My next cooking session was at the wonderful Agriturismo Caniloro, an agriturismo that makes most of their own produce, even their flour which they mill themselves. I had a couple of cooking sessions there with two fantastic nonnas. We made pizza scima (translated as stupid pizza) which instead of water, is made with wine, and cooked in a wood fire covered with a solid metal lid which is covered with fire also. You can image the gorgeous smoked flavour. Dinner that evening was a beautiful rabbit and potato stew with their rosé wine, all by a roaring fire. The next morning I made pasta with tiny Nonna Antoinietta (bear in mind that I am only 5′ 4″ / 1.6m tall!), a treat, and an inspiration.

Agriturismo Caniloro, Contrada S. Onofrio 134, 66034 Lanciano CH, Italy

It was time to explore some traditional pastries, and so we headed back to the mountains to Guardiagrele to sample Sise delle Moniche pastries. Wonderfully fluffy and indulgent, don’t you love that the shop has a brush to wipe the sugar from your clothes after?

Then for lunch down the road to sample my first arrosticini, irresistible grilled mutton skewers (and that is one portion!) at Cantina del Tripio, followed by some handmade pasta. All in a local Abruzzo lunch!

What a wonderful experience. I found the people of Abruzzo to be gentle and friendly, it was a real pleasure to travel around the region and cook with them. I only saw a small slice of it too.

I visited Abruzzo with Visit Abruzzo to explore the region and shoot a video with them, which I will share shortly. Londoners can fly to Pescara in Abruzzo from London Stansted, or you can drive (or get a bus) from Rome.

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Recipe: Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken

I have an unusual and very tasty recipe for you today, ripe from the shores of Grenada. Grenada is known for high quality cocoa and spice, and they meet here in this lively Coconut & Chocolate Chicken Curry.

Do you consider chocolate a sweet or savoury ingredient? For me dark chocolate is intensely savoury, and a brilliant secret addition to many dishes, enhancing with a deep low rumble. It is perfect with chilli and spices, which of course Mexicans have known for a long time. Mole, a savoury Mexican dish rich with chocolate, is a superb example of this. 

Recently in Grenada, I had the pleasure of doing a cooking session with Esther and Omega at True Blue Bay. I cooked with them last time too. They are fun, and know exactly what to do with the vibrant ingredients available in Grenada. So many spices, and the chocolate which Grenada is rich with. 

This time we made a Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken. A small amount of chocolate enriches the spicy sauce, with the creamy coconut lightening it. It is surprising, and it is something that all chocaholics and savoury food fans will enjoy. I have adapted Esther & Omega’s recipe for you to make at home. It is a fun one and will for sure intrigue anyone that you make it for! Ask them to guess what the secret ingredient is.

Recipe: Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

1.5kg chicken thigh meat, skin removed and chopped to approximately 2 inch segments
Chicken marinade: 2 spring onions, 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives, 2 tbsp fresh coriander, 4 cloves peeled garlic, one inch of peeled fresh ginger, 1 tbsp light oil like groundnut or sunflower)
250g ripe tomatoes or the equivalent in good tinned or passata
200ml coconut milk
1 large green pepper, core and seeds removed and diced into 1cm dice
2 tbsp curry powder
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
4 cardamom pods, coarsely crushed
2 chipotle chilles in adobo (or dried chipotle chilles, or a chilli of your choice if you can’t source either), chopped fine
juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
50g good dark chocolate
1 nice apple, cored and diced (fine to leave the skin on)
light oil for frying, like groundnut or sunflower
sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Method

Blend all marinade ingredients and add to the chicken. Marinade in the fridge for as long as you can, at least a half hour, up to 4 hours.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium-high heat until sealed all over.
Add all of the dry ingredients, lemon juice and the green pepper and cook for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, chilli and tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the chocolate and allow to melt through. Leave for a few minutes over a low heat.
Check for seasoning and adjust with sea salt and black pepper.
Ready to eat! Superb with rice, and take care not to eat the cardamom pods and the bay leaves, they are just for flavour.

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Kyoto Sake Tour: All About Sake & Visiting Matsumoto Shuzo & Gekkeikan Sake Breweries

A trip to Kyoto would be remiss without several things. While I accept that it is impossible to do everything, I have many more trips to make before I have, I will give you a starter list. You need to do a full exploration of the tea culture, including attending a tea ceremony as Kyoto is renowned for the quality of their tea and their beautiful antique pottery. You must have a kaiseki dinner and a proper Kyoto breakfast (my favourite was at Touzan at The Hyatt Regency). Finally, you cannot visit Kyoto without a visit to at least one sake brewery.  Read More

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Wild Garlic Pesto (aka the Joy of Spring) [Recipe]

Wild garlic pesto does feel a cliché but when it is so delicious, why shouldn’t it be? Wild garlic, if you haven’t cooked with it yet, is a broad garlic flavoured leaf, slightly sour, and fantastic with anything creamy, cheesy and it is the best pal for the humble spud. It grows abundantly in the shade, white flours sprouting out in clusters on elegant stems, leaping towards the sunshine.

It is wild garlic season here, but near me we mainly have three cornered leek (often confused for wild garlic), which is too grassy for pesto. I tried to source some proper wild garlic, I cried out for secret sources – I WON’T TELL ANYONE, I SWEAR! – but no joy, I failed. I am deeply impatient, and I had a visceral need for the stuff. Praise the internet for intervening and saving my brain and wild garlic free larder, a very kind twitter friend sent me some in the post, and I have been playing with it ever since.

Three cornered leek

Three cornered leek, garlicky & oniony is lovely, but it ain’t wild garlic!

Wild garlic pesto is made in many ways. I chose almonds for body, 36 month aged parmesan for that perfect cheesy umami hit, a lovely fruity extra virgin olive oil with a hint of bitterness and some wild garlic. I played with the volumes, and while they suspiciously come to the same amount in grams, the volumes are different, and they work very well, with just the right garlic punch and shade of green. The oil may seem a lot, but it needs this as a minimum or it is too dry. It also helps keep it fresh, protecting it from the air. Hey, it is healthy too, particularly as unheated and retaining all of the goodness.  When using this pesto, I sometimes add more to thin it out or help it spread. Use your own judgement for yours.

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As lovely as this is used in the traditional pesto sense as a dressing for pasta, it is great as a condiment elsewhere. This was lovely as a dressing for a crisp potato hash with bacon and eggs for brunch today, and beautiful on toast with some radishes.

Enjoy, and if you do make it, let me know what you do with it. Tag me if you make it and share it on instagram too.

The print friendly recipe is on the next page – enjoy! 

Page 2 – Wild Garlic Pesto Recipe

egyptian-falafel-recipe-eatlikeagirl

Egyptian Style Falafel with Lemon Tahini Dressing [Recipe]

I love me some beans, I can’t get enough of them. It shocks people often to discover that I used to be vegetarian (WHAT?!), but you know, I was worried about industrial farming (I still am), and my degree studies were in physiology, including anatomy, which involved human dissection. Yes, HUMAN dissection. I went home one evening after an anatomy dissection, cooked some chicken and thought that it all looked too similar, the flesh and the fibres (sorry, but it is true), my stomach turned and that was that, for a long while. Then as the farmers market movement took hold properly, and people and even supermarkets started to become more concerned about meat and meat sourcing, I came back on board.

These years of vegetarianism taught me a lot. I explored pulses, vegetables, herbs and spice. I learned how to add flavour without adding meat, and I resurrected my university nutrition studies to ensure that I was eating nutritionally balanced meals. I studied more, I learned about new and exciting ways that I could eat. I devoured cookbooks, I obsessively read online. I fell in love with pulses, completely. All sorts of beans and lentils, I would fill my suitcase with bean shaped curiosities from everywhere that I travelled and bring them home.

One place I have yet to travel to is Egypt, but I have explored the food in London and in my own kitchen. One of my favourite discoveries when I first moved to London was the wonder of a bowl of ful medames (always spelled in a myriad of ways like dal|dahl|dhal!), a beautiful breakfast dish of small ful beans (dried baby broad beans), gently spiced and cooked for hours with garlic and eggs boiled within, which are served on top. I used to eat it all the time and made it my mission to perfect it at home. I think I feel a post coming on!

Dried broad beans are a superb ingredient. I loved how they cook them in Puglia, until soft and served as a gorgeous dip rich with local olive oil and mountain oregano, ripe for you to drag some crusty bread through. I brought lots home, but I buy them in local Turkish shops too. Jane Baxter, the originator of this falafel recipe, highly recommends British grown organic beans from Hodmedods, who sell them online too. You need these unassuming beans in your life, I promise you.

Which leads me on to what exactly an Egyptian falafel is. It is a falafel shaped from broad beans with spices, herbs and other joy, coated with sesame seeds. A lovely alternative to the chickpea falafel we all know so well. The falafel recipe is adapted from Jane Baxter & Henry Dimbleby, and it has a lovely story associated too (see after the recipe).

Have you got a favourite falafel recipe or story? I have many! I used to live on them when I was fresh out of university and living in Amsterdam. Another day for those, but tell me yours!

The recipe is on the next page – link here – make my day and share / comment! :)