Saturday, February 23, 2008

Big Saturday Loaf

Big Saturday Loaf
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg
Now that we've gotten used to making (blasé, even!) our weekly bread for our lunch boxes, I thought it would be interesting to have a different sort of bread for the weekend. I wanted to try a large loaf from which we could hack slices as and when we needed to. So, this is it - funnily enough, the yeast wasn't super fresh so I gave it a longer time to prove. This resulted in a slightly sour, dense-ish loaf that was delightful to eat and kept well into the week.

Now I'm really feeling adventurous...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thai Chicken and Galangal Soup

Mmmmm... getting carried away here with the East. The Far East, that is! I love making this soup almost as much as I love eating it. It's a favourite of mine at Sala Thong restaurant in Cambridge. This bowl of rich soup, crammed with chicken and mushrooms steeped in coconut milk which has been infused with galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime (rind and juice, in the absence of leaves...) is heaven on the tongue. The restaurant serves it with Thai sticky rice (and I do too, when I can!) but it's just as good with Thai fragrant rice. The tricky bit, I think, is getting the consistency right - you need to remember that the mushrooms don't require more than about 5 minutes in the soup AND they give off a lot of liquid in cooking. I always fumble with that but I've never been disappointed with the results!

Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup
250 gms chicken breast, slice
2 cups coconut milk
6 thin slices young galangal
15-20 closed-cup white mushrooms, quartered
2 stalks lemongrass, lower portion, cut into 1-inch lengths and crushed
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half (or 3-4 strips of kaffir lime + juice)
4 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar (...or honey)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
Garnish with a handful of coriander leaves, torn and the remainder of the sliced red chilli.

1. Combine half the coconut milk and half the sliced chilli with the galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves (or juice and rind) in a saucepan. Heat to boiling.
2. Add the chicken, fish sauce salt, sugar and white pepper. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, and then add the remaining coconut milk.
3. Heat just to boiling. Place the lime juice and fried chilli paste in a serving bowl and pour the soup over them.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves and sliced red chillies.

Serve with steamed fragrant or sticky rice. Serves 4, with accompaniments.

Udon noodle bowl with Chinese chives, bamboo shoots and roast duck

Udon noodle bowl
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
After that scrumptious feast of a meal we had the evening before, my appetite was still hungry for more of the same the next day! We had a considerable selection of leftovers which meant "playtime" for me and my cupboard. It took very little time to come up with this - a noodle bowl with a delicate soup, soy sauce, mirin, Chinese chives and leftover roast duck. I served this sort of "semi-wet" - the ratio of noodles to broth was quite a bit higher than I normally do for a bowl, but it worked just fine. I have to repeat this dish before I can post a recipe but you have the basic ingredients list here should you want to try it:

Ingredients for Udon Noodle Bowl

Cooked duck meat, picked from the bone (about a cup)
3 packs Udon noodles (the soft, pre-cooked type work well)
a good handful of Chinese chives, cut into 3cm lengths (or any Chinese greens, roughly chopped
1 small can bamboo shoots
grated fresh ginger and grated fresh garlic (about 1-2 tsp each)
soy sauce (about 2-3 tbsps)
mirin (or honey or sugar) 1 tsp
rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp
2 cups good-quality chicken broth
ground white pepper

small handful of mushrooms, sliced

This can also be made vegetarian by substituting some nice mushrooms (shitake or oyster, for example) for the duck.