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

.

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

A Burgess Easter

This Easter like nearly every other Easter since 2004 we went camping. This year we went to the beautiful Lake Albert here in South Australia. There was fishing, Kayaking, wine, sunshine (and wind) and much fun and frivolity.

I was going to write about cooking while camping . But our Easter camping adventures are perhaps a bit different from the standard camping trip. We go with my Husbands extended family. My husband comes from a massive family and this year there were 31 of us camping as one big group. It’s all lovely and communal and the children roam free with each other for company.

One of the things that makes the Burgess family Easter camp a bit special is Roast night. This is where each family cooks a roast meal. These roast meals are prepared using webers or in our case a fancy webber type thing called a cob.

They are also prepared in tiny prep areas, in fact I had to serve with our plates on the ground as I had run out of room

The best wines are brought out for the meal, all of our tables are pushed together to form on long table, the tables get table cloths and candles and people go all out. But the best bit is this family all sits together and chats and laughs and enjoys themselves.

The next morning there is a big fry up – mmm bacon.

and of course chocolate, including an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Sometimes life’s so busy that little things like catching up with family just fall by the wayside, so it’s nice to be part of a family (even if only by marriage) who make the time every Easter to camp together and really catch up.

Buttermilk Pancakes

I’ve been making pancakes nearly every Saturday since my husband and I bought our house nearly 11 years ago.  It wasn’t like we decided that this would be some sort of tradition, just that we both liked pancakes and we had plenty of time on Saturday mornings and it sort of became a ritual.

Fast forward nearly 11 years and now with 2 kids Saturday mornings are often hectic but we still find time to make pancakes, and I can report our love of pancakes has been passed on to our children who seem to be able to inhale  ridiculous amounts of pancakes. 

Over the years we have tried several different recipes which have been good but this recipe we think is the best, and every time I suggest something different Lucas looks at me like I’m a crazy lady.  It makes fluffy light pancakes (kinda hot cake style), best served with homemade vanilla syrup

So lets make pancakes

 

There’s flour, mixed with sugar and bi carb

 

And eggs mixed with butter milk

Then wet plus dry are whisked together

Fried in our perfect pancake size pan with butter (some people suggest frying them with no butter or oil, but it’s never worked for me)

Drizzle with “once you taste it you’ll never go back to maple syrup” homemade vanilla syrup

Buttermilk Pancakes (makes a lot)

Recipe adapted from Julie Goodwins Our Family Table

2 Cups self raising flour

½ teaspoon bi carb

½ cup sugar

2 ½ cups buttermilk

2 eggs

Mix self raising flour, bi carb and sugar together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix whisk together eggs and butter milk.

Add egg/buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients.  Mix until it’s all incorporated and there are no lumps, but don’t over mix otherwise you’ll get tough pancakes.  Sometimes the batter seems a bit thick so I thin it with a little bit of water, you want the consistency similar to cake batter.

Melt a small piece of butter in a pan, then add batter to pan. How much you add will depend don how big your pan is how big  or thick a pancake you want.  Once bubbles start to appear its time to turn the pancake.  Cook for another minute or until cooked through.

Repeat with remaining mixture

Homemade vanilla syrup

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can use vanilla essence if the budget doesn’t stretch this far)

Mix sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat till sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat add vanilla extract

Store in fridge