Cooking in Thailand

We’re off to Thailand soon so the blog will be pretty quiet whilst we’re off having fun in the sun, so I thought I’d leave you with a Thailand post.

We were lucky enough to go to Thailand last year. We had a fantastic time and one of the highlights was the Thai cooking class we did a the Phuket  Thai cooking school. We had our children with us (aged 4 &6) which could have been a hindrance, but it wasn’t, they were amazingly well behaved and helped us cook 6 amazing Thai Dishes.

           

The class started off with a trip to the markets in Phuket town. Were we saw amazing produce including some new discoveries of ingredients we’d never seen before. We also tasted a lot of food. One of the highlights was the rose apple, kind of a cross between a watermelon and apple. So refreshing in the Thai heat.

Then we headed to the location of our cooking school, a quiet little beach with aqua water lapping at the sand with views to islands, The kids were happy a beach to play on a garden to explore and the staff were so good with them

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The cooking school was set up with and area where we sat and watched and listened as a dish was prepared, then it was onto a work station to prepare that dish. Off to a table overlooking the beach to eat our amazing dish then repeating the whole process again for the next dish.

We made

Thai herbal soup with local vegetables.

We made a paste, added it to stock then added vegetables and the prawns, all pretty simple.

This dish was a big challenge for me as I don’t eat mushrooms or seafood and it of course had mushrooms in it as well as prawns. But I got over this and ate it and you what for a simple dish it was full of flavour.

Next up was

Spicy minced chicken salad (better known in Thai restaurants as chicken larp)

This was really easy. It’s really just about getting the balance of ingredients right.

After this we tackled

Chicken with cashew nuts. Now I’d seen this at almost all the restaurants we ate at in Thailand and was surprised as I associated this with Chinese food. But this easily has to be the best chicken with cashew nuts I’ve ever made

The chicken was  deep fried in a lightly spiced batter. Vegetables are stir-fried chicken added then you toss in another perfectly balanced sauce (made by my 4 yr old daughter, it’s that easy). I’ve made this a few times since and always get rave reviews.

Then we cooked up

Yellow curry with chicken.

We made the paste from scratch then cooked it off with some coconut milk, threw in diced chicken and some vegetables simmered till the chicken was cooked and adjusting for sweetness and saltiness. This one was really all about getting the curry paste right.

To accompany his we made

Thai fried rice with crab meat.

this was a slight variation on the fried rice I’d made before and it was a bit of challenge with the crab meat and me not eating seafood. But it was pretty good and went really well with the yellow curry.

After all this cooking we just watched a demonstration of sticky rice. There’s soaking and cooking and absorption of sweet coconut milk, so it takes longer than we had. But I’ve cooked it at home and as lover of carbs and all things sweet it’s a winner.

All up the day was fantastic. I cooked (and ate) things I didn’t think I could cook and really now appreciate that Thai cooking is all about the balance of flavours between sweet, slaty and sour.

I also appreciated the chance to explore the food and culture of the country we were visiting

Chai Tea Creme Brulee

I love tea. I’m not sure I can convey this enough. So I was rather excited when I found out that the theme for this month’s Sweet Adventures blog hop was tea.

I make a lovely early grey chocolate cake, and was tempted to make it for this post, but wanted to try something new. I started thinking about how I could infuse tea into a cake or a desert, and came upon the idea of somehow infusing it into a crème brulee. Immediately I thought of chai tea when I came up with the crème brulee idea. My favourite chai tea at the moment is choc chip chai from T2. It’s got a subtle twist on the normal chai flavour and it’s really well suited as the days grow colder.

So let’s make Chai Crème Brulee

cream is infused with chai tea

eggs and sugar whipped together

It gets all caramelly in colour once you add the cream to eggs and sugar

we get some water bath action

and I’d put a picture of blow torch action if I owend  a blow torch

Chai Crème Brulee (makes 4 smallish ramekins and takes about 24 hours)

500 ml cream

2 tbsp chai tea ( I used T2 Choc chip chai)

5 egg yolks

50g sugar

extra sugar (approx 50 g)

Place cream in saucepan add tea. bring to boil, simmer 5 mins., turn of heat. Leave to infuse 15 mins. The strain. Cool cream slightly.

When cream is cooling whisk the 50g of sugar with egg yolk, till combined. Slowly stir in cream until all combined.

Pour into ramekins, refrigerate overnight (or several hours)

The next morning pre heat oven to 120 degrees c and pop ramekins into deepish baking dish. Pour boiling water into baking dish so it comes 1/2 way up sides of ramekins.

Bake in oven for 30-40mins or until just set. Take out of baking dish and allow to cool, then refrigerate for 6 hours min.

When ready to serve take out of fridge, sprinkle just over 1 tsp sugar over the top of custard. The using a kitchen blow torch melt sugar till tis brown and bubbling. If like me you don’t have a kitchen suitable blow torch, you can melt the sugar under the griller, just keep an eye on it.

Leave for about 2 mins and the melted sugar will harden up, giving you that classic crème brulee crack.

Enjoy

This post was part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop – Whats your cup of tea? Head on over to check out some other amazing tea inspired creations

Jupiter Creek Farm CSA box – week 5

Up to week 5 of our Jupiter Creek Farm CSA box (more info on the whole CSA thing here). I totally missed posting about last week’s box as life got in the way. I also almost missed out on a box for this week, cue panic. But all ended well and I got a box.

Anyway, what was in the box

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Onion
  • Spring Onion
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Plums

So how did I use all this amazing produce

The Spinach, well I’ll definitely use it in green smothies, or served as a side dish, as I’m the only one in the house who really fancies it

There were only 2 carrots so I really don’t think I’ll make a meal wound them, but together with the potatoes and parsnip and onion I might do a meal of roasted vegetables, perfect for a winter dinner

The spring onions, well I’ve used them in omelettes, fried rice and maybe just maybe might whip up some cheesy spring onion potatoes

The cauliflower, well I’m roasting some right now with olive oil and cumin seeds. I might do a soup, or make cauliflower with cheese, which really is up there as ultimate winter comfort food.

The pumpkin well, its one of those gorgeous heirloom pumpkins – potimarron. I’m so excited about this as it was amazing last we had it. I’m thinking I’ll make this pumpkin tart and any leftover will go into the roast vegetable party I’ve described above.

There were only 2 sticks of celery and I used one in a fried rice and I’ll snack on the other one.

Apples well, we’ve been chowing down on these as they are so good, but if I can save a couple, I reckon I can see an apple tea cake in our future

Kiwi fruit, daughter loves them, so there are all hers (she’d be most unimpressed if someone else ate them)

Plums well, they were pretty good and have just been eaten by themselves (in fact I ate the last one while typing this post).

For more info on Jupiter Creek Farm see here

 

Part of the In her chucks CSA link up party

Pavlova

I’m not a big fan of pavlova. Yeah its un Australian to admit it, but it’s just not my thing.

Now we have that confession out the way, I’ll also confess I’ve only made pavlova 3 times, including making it for this blog post.

Why am I making it if I don’t really like it. Well it all starts with last Christmas. We were hosting 20 + people at our house for lunch. If you’ve been to our house you can kind of understand this was a feat in itself (we have a small house). So because re arranging the whole house and cooking a meal for 20 people wasn’t enough of a challenge I thought I should serve Pavlova. I mean it’s the quintessential Australian desert (or maybe it’s from New Zealand, I’m not even going to go into that argument), perfect for summer and Christmas.

So I studied a few recipes, did a test Pavlova, took it to work where everyone said it was great. Was feeling confident. Well….

I was planning to make the pavlova Christmas eve and put the cream and fruit on it on Christmas day. Fairly sound plan, except with so much to do I only remembered the pavlova at 11:30pm Christmas eve. I mean that’s ok. We had so much else to do we’d be up till 2am anyway. So I go to make the pavlova and immediately stuff it up by adding the sugar to egg whites without whipping the egg whites up. Ok, stress levels starting to rise, I was down to my last 6 eggs. So I give it another attempt. no mistakes, it turns out perfectly. I leave it in the oven to cool as the recipe states.

Now for breakfast Christmas morning we have croissants for breakfast. I stick the oven on to cook them, get distracted, come back 15 mins later to put croissants in oven, opps pavlova is still in there. Ok it’s now kinda double cooked but still seems ok. So we move it to the kitchen bench were it sits quite happily until husband opened upper cupboard and box of crackers falls out and lands on pavlova.

At this point I’m really beyond caring. It’s Christmas day I’ve got 20 people coming for lunch, 2 kids who have opened toys and are over excited. There is mess everywhere. I’m like lets shove whipped cream and fruit on it and hope for the best. We do and people love the pavlova (ok lots of wine was drunk with lunch so it might have clouded people’s opinions but hey I’ll take the positive feedback).

So why make it again. Well it’s so quintessentially Australian I have to make it as part of my classic Australiana baking series. And also because I used to be scared of the idea of making pavlova. Really its not that hard, plus if it gets crushed by a falling box of crackers, it can totally be saved by whipped cream and beautiful seasonal fruit.

So let’s make Pavlova

There’s eggs or egg whites to be precise (lots of them)

Bit of salt

Bit of whipping

Sugar (lots of it) and then more whipping

Vanilla + vinegar + cornflour

Pavlova – recipe adapted from Julie Goodwins Our Family Table

6 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups caster sugar

1 tlbps cornflour

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600 mils cream

seasonal fruit (although in this case I used frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 170 degree C (150 if fan forced). Line baking tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites and salt together until soft peaks appear.

Add in in sugar a little bit at a time. Once all added beat until stiff and glossy

Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Be very gentle when doing this as you don’t want to knock the air out of the mixture.

Spread mixture on baking paper. make sure it’s not all the way to the edges.

Bake 30 mins then turn down heat to 140 degrees C (120 fan forced) and bake another 40 mins. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool in oven (its fine to leave it in there overnight or several hours).

When ready to assemble whip cream, spread on pavlova, top with fruit, serve bask in glow of having made and excellent pavlova.

Sundays with Joy – Leek & Asparagus Quiche

This week in the Sundays with Joy  Facebook group we made Leek and Asparagus Quiche. Well everyone else did I made Leek and Bacon quiche.

It’s not that I don’t like Asparagus, no far from it, I spend all of spring trying to incorporate it into as many meals as possible. But the thing is it’s not Spring here in Australia so it’s not in season. I mean sure I could buy it, but I don’t quite feel right buying it when it comes from Peru or where ever. For a whole host of reasons I’d rather buy fresh local in season produce.

So I adapted the recipe to use bacon in its place. I mean bacon makes everything good so I figured there wouldn’t be a problem.

I also don’t make quiche too often. It all seems a bit 1980’s. But you know what quiche is pretty good and this one was delicious. We ate it hot, but it would be perfect as picnic food.

Let’s make quiche

There was bacon

Of course Leeks

2 types of cheese

And Eggs, milk and cream action

Leek and Bacon Quiche – recipe adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook  Leek and Asparagus Quiche

3 rashers bacon diced

1 leek thinly sliced

1 sheet frozen puff pastry

1 cup milk

3/4 cup cream

4 eggs

3/4 cup grated cheese ( I used shedder)

1/4 cup of feta cheese

Pr3eheat Oven to 180 degrees C

Defrost puff pastry

Fry bacon until just starting to brown. Add sliced leek. On medium heat cook until leeks are just starting to soften.

Mix together milk, cream, and eggs ad in 1/2 of the grated cheese

Line 25cm pie tin with pastry. Fill with Leek and Bacon mixture. Crumble feta over the top. Then pour over egg mixture, top with remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 1bout 40 mins or until quiche is set and browned on top. Let site for 30 mins.

Serve hot or cold

To see how others from the Sundays with Joy group baked the quiche, checkout the very lovely Bakeaholic Mama

Scones – you totally can make them

Ok people let’s talk scones. I love scones. I really loved scones when I was pregnant with my son, I mean I was making them several times a week for the whole 9 months. Predictably my son loves scones .

What’s not to love about scones, they are cheap, easy and need no fancy ingredients. You can dress them up and serve them with fancy butters & jams or just enjoy them in a simple way.  They are also a staple of Australain baking and I’m going to bake my way through a whole bunch of Australain baking classics begining with scones.

However I’m getting the idea that people are frightened of making them. I always seem to have people asking me how to make them, what ingredients are needed etc. There is this strange perception form people that they are hard to make. People even buy scone mix.

Let me put this out there for you . YOU CAN MAKE SCONES. You totally can I have faith in you. You need only 3 ingredients, and I bet there’s a fair chance you have then in your cupboard. You don’t need a fancy mixer, there is no creaming butter and sugar and not even a wooden spoon is needed.

Let’s make scones

There is sifting of flour (but you can skip this and it will still work out really well)

Butter rubbed into flour

Mixed together with buttermilk with a knife

Glazing action

Scones

2 1/2 cups self raising flour

30g butter

1 cup butter milk (or plain milk or cream for a richer scone)

Extra milk for glazing

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c

Sift Flour into bowl (I’ve not sifted it & it still worked out)

Rub butter into flour, you want to rub it in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs

Make a well in the centre, add milk. Mix with a knife (yes just an average butter knife) to form a dough.

Top out on to light floured surface gather it together and pat it down to about 2.5 cm thick. Don’t overwork the dough or it will make the scones tough.

Cut scones out. I’ve got some fancy scone cutter (gift for going to a tupperware party), if you don’t have one use a small glass. Pop scones on baking paper lined tray fairly close together (it helps them rise). Glaze scones with extra milk.

Bake for 15 mins (or until lightly golden).  Cool on cooling rack.

My Minestrone Soup

It’s coming into winter, which equals open fires, red wine, casseroles and of course soups

I make soup at least once in the cooler months. Obviously its tasty, but it’s also cheap and filling and usually easy. This soup we would have at least once a fortnight. It’s a thoroughly unauthentic and probably nothing like a minestrone. I suspect it started of as minestrone and throughout time it’s kind of morphed into what it is, which is delicious.

It’s also really flexible and I always make it with Italian soup mix, potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes, but whatever else that goes into it is what I have on hand. Always add the pasta last and don’t overcook it. If you aren’t serving it straight away only par cook the pasta as it will go on cooking in the hot soup after it’s been taken off the stove.

Let’s make minestrone soup

There is chopped onions & garlic

Potatoes, celery and carrots

Italian soup mix

Zucchini

Kale & spinach

Pasta

Minestrone Soup (makes a lot adjust as required)

1 cup Italian soup mix (the dried Italian bean mix, in where you also find dried lentils)

1 tbsp good olive oil

1 onion chopped (sliced leek also works well)

1 clove of garlic chopped

1/2-1 chilli chopped (depending on how spicing you want it and the quantity your making)

1-2 medium potatoes large diced (depending on how much you want to put in)

2 sticks of Celery sliced

2 carrots sliced

1/2 Zucchini sliced (optional and I only ever put it in if I have some, you could also put in some chopped capsicum in its place or just leave it out)

handful of spinach and or Kale, roughly chopped ( again this is optional I only use it if I have it)

1 810g can of crushed/chopped tomatoes.

1 cup of small pasta (in this case I used small spirals but have used macaroni or spaghetti broken into smaller pieces)

small handful of herbs (Basil/oregano/thyme/parsley whatever I have on hand that is vaguely Italian)

The first thing you need to do it cook your beans. You can do this via soaking them in water overnight and then boil them for about 1 hour. I’m never that organised so I do them in my pressure cooker. For this pop them in pressure cooker cover with water to a depth of about 10cm, pop lid on and bring up to pressure, then simmer 10 mins turn off heat and let it cool down and depressurise (is this a word?). Either way strain beans.

Heat oil in big stock pot or very large saucepan, then add garlic, onion and chilli fry until soft. Then add in potatoes, celery and carrots as well as beans, and tomatoes. Fill can tomatoes came form with water add this to soup. Bring to boil and simmer 15 mins or until carrot and potato are nearly cooked

Add Zucchini and spinach, simmer 5 mins. Add pasta, cook till done if serving straight away, if serving later par cook pasta as it will go on cooking in the hot soup after it’s been taken off the stove.

Serve hot. I like mine with basil pesto and parmesan I doubt this is at all authentic and nobody else in the family likes it like this, but I like it and think it adds to it in a delicious way.

Garlic bread goes spectacularly well with this