I do like a culinary theme. It gives me the chance to get my thinking cap on and dream up new recipes (not that I need much of an excuse to think about food), and if I start to feel guilty about eating too much I can blame this blog … it’s all in the name of research after all!
I had a little peek on the BBC Food website and saw that 13-15 April is Thai New Year, and as Thai food is some of my favourite (anything South East Asian is my favourite to be honest) I didn’t need to think too hard before deciding to make a celebratory menu for a New Year’s feast.
I was lucky enough to be given a gift of a cookery class at Leith’s school of cookery when I left my last job (such lovely, generous colleagues!) and I had chosen to do Leith’s day of Thai cookery. I dug out my old class notes and decided to make a Thai green curry with chicken. I have made a green curry before, but do usually take the cheat’s short cut and use a paste (I find Barts curry pastes are really decent). I also think that Thai food can be a bit overly-rich due to the coconut milk, so I thought I’d tweak Leith’s recipe to create a healthier version.
I also had every intention of making some spring rolls and so bought rice noodles and pork (I already had Vietnamese rice paper in the house), and added various fresh ingredients to my online trolley make my curry: coriander, lemongrass, lime leaves and green chillis. Everything else for the curry was already in the house.
In my experience, a lot of Asian desserts are either banana fritters (mushy banana coated in batter = disgusting!), or fresh fruit (nice and healthy and lovely but not really in line with my idea of a feast!). Then I had a spark of inspiration and had the idea of making coconut ice cream. Being the lazy sod that I am, I searched for a no churn version. I couldn’t find one online so instead I adapted a Nigella coffee ice cream no-churn recipe (I’ve never made it but I imagine it is delicious). I was half expecting a disaster but actually the ice cream turned out beautifully, especially topped with a dusting of toasted coconut. My recipe makes a very large container of ice cream and it does need to be eaten within a couple of weeks, so if you are not likely to get through it in that time I suggest you halve the quantities (although what do you do with the other half of a can of condensed milk?!).
So, I had my menu. I made the coconut ice cream in around 3 minutes, just before I had a shower in the morning (by the way, only make this if you have an electric whisk otherwise you will go mad whisking it by hand!) and made my curry paste (adapting the Leiths recipe to make my life easier), but decided not to make the spring rolls as I couldn’t be bothered to fry them and so instead made pork and noodle patties which were a great success.
Thai green curry – serves 4
For the curry paste: 1 onion, 1 stalk of lemongrass, 2 large green chillis, the stalks from a bunch of coriander, 2 lime leaves, 1 tbsp lazy garlic, 1 tsp lazy ginger (this makes enough for 2 curries, so you can freeze half or store it in the fridge for a few days), 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
For the curry: 3 tsp of the above curry paste, 1 tsp garlic, 2 lime leaves, 1 can reduced fat coconut milk, 2 onions, 1 tsp oil, 1 chicken oxo cube, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp brown or palm sugar, 4 chicken breasts
To make the curry paste, blitz all of the ingredients together in a processor until it is all finely chopped. Gently fry 3 tsp of the paste in the oil in a saucepan, along with the garlic. Add the coconut milk, oxo cube, fish sauce and sugar to the saucepan as well as half a can of water (around 200 mls). Bring this to the boil and then add the sliced onion and cubed chicken. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, and serve with Thai jasmine rice.
Pork patties – makes 12 patties
1 pack of pork mince (around 400g), 1 packet of ready to eat vermicelli rice noodles, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped red chilli, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp lazy garlic, 1 tsp lazy ginger, 1 handful of chopped coriander
Mix all of the ingredients together, making sure that the pork and noodles are fully combined (it’s easiest to use your hands to scrunch all the ingredients together) and then form into 12 patties. Lay them on a lightly greased baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes, turning over halfway through the cooking time.
I served a few of these as a side dish to accompany the curry – with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. They are also great with salad in a packed lunch.
Coconut ice cream – makes one very, very, very large tub
1 can of condensed milk, 1 can of coconut milk, 600 mls double cream, 100g desiccated coconut, plus extra coconut to sprinkle over the top of the ice cream when serving
Simply whisk all the wet ingredients together until soft peaks are formed, then stir in the desiccated coconut. Transfer to a tupperware container and freeze for several hours until completely frozen. Serve in scoops topped with lightly toasted coconut.