Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Courgette, Asparagus and Wild Rice Salad with a Basil Dressing

A fresh, summery recipe great for lunches on the go. As usual, this recipe was inspired by the big spread on Ottolenghi in last week's Guardian Weekend supplement. The original recipe calls for manouri which is similar to haloumi but I decided to make it more substantial and add my favourite thee rice combo instead. Since I prefer not to mix carbohydrates with animal proteins, I left the cheese out for now. My copy of the Ottolenghi cookbook has been dispatched and is on its way. I am more excited than you rationally ought to be about a cookbook! We got some absolutely beautiful cherry tomatoes on the vine from the market last weekend and gently baked, they add a wonderfully creamy note to this dish.

Courgette, Asparagus and Wild Rice Salad with a Basil Dressing

1 courgette
1 bunch of asparagus
handful of cherry tomatoes
handful of pine nuts
fresh flatleaf parsley
handful of baby spinach leaves
handful of fresh basil leaves
garlic cloves
olive oil
rice (I use a mix of long grain brown rice, wild rice and camargue red rice)

Whilst the rice is cooking, steam the asparagus in bamboo steamers on top of the pan for around 5 minutes. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a baking dish, cut side up. Spray with olive oil and bake for around 15 minutes or until just starting to get soft. Slice the courgette into long, thin strips using either a mandoline slicer or a vegetable peeler (I found the latter made them thinner and actually tasted nicer than when using the former). Heat a griddle pan and spray with olive oil. Griddle fry the aubergine slices for around 3-4 minutes each side or until the blackened lines appear.

Using the cooked rice as a base, arrange the courgette slices, asparagus and cherry tomatoes on top. Finely chop the flat leaf parsley and the baby spinach leaves and mix in well, along with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of pine nuts. Add a twist of black pepper.

Place the basil leaves, 1 peeled garlic clove, two tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of water (to make the consistency more pourable) into the hand blender and blitz until it becomes a bright green smooth and creamy dressing. Drizzle on top of the rice and vegetables to bring a fantastic colour and flavour to the dish.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Steamed Haddock on a bed of samphire and sweet potato mash

Having spotted some samphire at the wonderful Golborne Fisheries shop, I'd been keen on cooking with it. It is so unusual yet so flavourful that you really don't need a fancy dish to accompany it. Instead, I kept the fish simple and steamed it in lemon and black pepper, letting the flavours of this sea vegetable do all the talking.

Steamed haddock on a bed of samphire and sweet potato mash

2 haddock fillets

1-2 sweet potatoes

lemon juice

black pepper

olive oil

handful of samphire

Peel and chop the sweet potato and boil it in water for around 15 minutes or until soft. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, place the bamboo steamers over the pan of boiling water. Wrap the haddock in baking parchment with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a twist of black pepper. Steam for around 10 minutes. Rinse the samphire and steam for around 5-8 minutes. You don't want them too soft. When the potatoes are cooked, mash with a little olive oil for flavour, then place on a plate, pile the samphire on top, add a little more lemon juice and black pepper to the samphire for extra flavour and sit the steamed fish fillet on top.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Well it was only a matter of time before the Portobello mushroom made an appearance on the Portobello Kitchen blog. Couldn't resist picking up four beauties and stuffing them with my usual Mediterranean style filling.
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
4 Portobello Mushrooms
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Sundried tomatoes
Handful of spinach leaves
Pine nuts
Goat's cheese
Fresh thyme and basil
Olive oil
Garlic cloves
Rinse the mushrooms and cut off the stalks. Brush with olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters, mix with the chopped sundried tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and cubed goat's cheese. Mix with finely chopped spinach leaves and herbs. Finely chop the stalk of the mushrooms and add to the mix. Spoon over the mushrooms and bake for a further ten minutes or until the cheese is melted and the nuts are starting to brown. Place a handful of fresh basil leaves, a garlic clove, a splash of olive oil and some water in the hand blender and blitz until it has a nice dressing consistency. Dribble over the mushrooms, place on a nest of rocket leaves, mixed with alfalfa sprouts and serve.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Broad Bean and Radish Salad

The first of the summer's fresh broad beans are now appearing in the market and with the current lovely weather, it really did feel as if summer was almost here on Saturday. We snapped up the broad beans and used them to make a salad once again taken directly from the fabulous Ottolenghi - I seriously can't wait for that cookbook to come out later this week.

I often obsess about a particular ingredient and search for recipes specifically to include different ways to use it. These past few months, I've had a thing about preserved lemons. They do say that once you start cooking with them, you never look back. I bought a jar of beautiful Carley's Preserved Lemons in Wholefoods just to see how we'd get on with them, but after that made my own.

Broad Bean and Radish Salad
1 bunch of radishes
1 cup quinoa
2 lbs of broad beans
1/2 preserved lemon
fresh chopped dill and flat leaf parsley
handful of alfalfa sprouts (optional)

Cook the quinoa in a saucepan in twice the amount of water. Whilst it is cooking, shell the broad beans out of their long casings. In a small pan of boiling water, blanch them for a minute or two. Run under cold water and then peel the soft light green shell casing from them. Top and tail the radishes before slicing them into rounds. Rinse and finely chop the preserved lemon, discarding the flesh. Mix all of the ingredients together and pour a little oil in to moisten - I used Udo's Oils but a good quality olive oil would do just as well. Finish with a twist of black pepper. This is summer on a plate.

Note to self: I'd probably put some sliced spring onions in this next time for added flavour.

Endive with melted Taleggio

Now this one won't exactly win any healthy eating prizes but as I've always said, I'm a firm believer in treating yourself every once in a while. On seeing some taleggio at the weekly market in Beaconsfield last week, it reminded me of an Ottolenghi recipe from the Guardian which I'd been saving as a treat. I am however on a strict no-sugar phase at the moment, so whilst creamy melty cheese was allowed, caramelising the endives in sugar and butter first was not!

Endive with melted Taleggio

1 large endive
olive oil
fresh thyme
black pepper
wholemeal breadcrumbs

Cut the endive in half and fry in olive oil, cut side down in a pan until browned. Place cut side up in a baking dish and cut out the tough heart of the endive. Place slices of taleggio over the top and sprinkle chopped fresh thyme over the top, along with a twist of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of wholemeal breadcrumbs. Place in a pre-heated oven for around 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melting and the breadcrumbs are brown. If necessary, finish under the grill for a couple of minutes to brown the top nicely.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


I came across this fabulous site via the UK Food Bloggers Association. Foodari is basically an online food community where you can make friends, look up other people's recipes as well as manage your own online cookbook.

For me, the beauty of this site is having one place in which to store all the recipes I find online which I can access from any computer. I am always on the web looking up various recipes and I now use my online Foodari site to save the ones I want to keep and cook later. There are also some interesting recipes on the site and you can search by tag, by name etc.

Take a look at my cookbook for things I have already made or am planning to make in the future! I find it such a handy resource for keeping everything in one place.

Friday, 18 April 2008

South Indian Okra and Sweet Potato Curry

This was a Jamie Oliver recipe that I found on a Sainsbury's recipe card. I'm not usually a massive Jamie fan but I do appreciate his commitment to causes such as eating free range poultry and of course, the famous school dinners. This recipe was great, thanks to the authentic use of curry leaves and the rich coconut cream.

South Indian Okra and Sweet Potato Curry

1 teapsoon mustard seeds

olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 green chilis deseeded and finely chopped

curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, ground coriander, garam masala

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, chili powder

1 sweet potato

handful of okra, topped and tailed

handful of sliced tomatoes

handful of frozen peas

1 tin coconut milk

Fry the mustard seeds in the oil until they start to pop and crackle. Add the onion, chilis, curry leaves and spices and fry until the onion is soft. Add the sweet potatoes and brown for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and a little water if necessary and simmer until the sweet potato is cooked. About ten minutes after adding the sweet potato, add the tomato, peas and okra. Continue to simmer and season before serving. I don't think you need to eat rice with this as it is heavy enough as it is.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Prawn and Avocado Salad with a Spicy Mango Salsa

Bizarrely enough, I found this recipe on the side of the box from a newly purchased bottle of Tabasco. It sounded pretty good so I gave it a whirl in the hand blender of course. It had a real kick to it but we both thought it was very tasty.
Prawn and Avocado Salad
1 packet cooked and peeled king prawns
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
Handful of alfalfa sprouts
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Handful of pumpkin seeds
Spicy Mango Salsa
Half a mango peeled and chopped
A half inch or so of ginger peeled and chopped
Two tablespoons of brown rice vinegar
Freshly squeezed juice of half an orange
A splash of water for a runnier consistency
1 peeled clove of garlic
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 tablespoon of Tabasco hot sauce
Mix all the salsa ingredients together in the hand blender and whizz until creamy. Pour over the salad ingredients and enjoy the Caribbean flavours!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Vietnamese Chicken and Pineapple Soup

When I first stumbled across this recipe on Epicurious, I wasn't sure how authentic it sounded and if the flavours would actually work that well. After having lived in Vietnam for almost two years, I am a huge fan of Vietnamese cuisine but dismiss most recipes as merely a bastardisation of the original or having nothing more than a passing nod to pan-Asian flavours. I was incredibly impressed with how this came out though, as was Mark. He got white rice noodles and cashew nuts in his to bulk it out a bit and we both thought the flavours were fantastic. I didn't add any bean sprouts but would definitely do that next time as I think it would work well.

Vietnamese Chicken and Pineapple Soup

2 red chilis

2 cloves of garlic

1 pineapple

3 chopped tomatoes

Handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, re-soaked and finely sliced

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 stalk lemongrass

Handful chopped fresh mint

Handful chopped fresh coriander

Cut the top and shave the sides off the pineapple. The eyes should still be left on. Next, trim the eyes off in slices, leaving the main part of the pineapple without any eyes or skin left on. Place the shaved sides with the eyes on in a hand blender with plenty of water. Puree this mixture and set aside. Fry the chopped garlic and chili in a saucepan with a splash of olive oil. Add the fish sauce and boil for two minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. This will stink to high heaven but the flavour in the soup is more subtle. Add the chopped sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, beansprouts (if using) and a handful of cubes of the remaining pineapple flesh. Fry for a couple of minutes before placing a fine sieve over the saucepan and pushing the pineapple puree mixture through the sieve directly into the pan. Push hard on the rough bits and discard. Add a little more water if needed. Simmer for ten minutes or so with a stick of crushed lemongrass to add flavour. Just before serving, add the chopped fresh herbs and a grind of black pepper. I cooked my chicken separately and just sprinkled the shredded pieces directly on top. The rice noodles went into the pan just after the pineapple puree and I gave them a good 6 minutes to cook. A sprinkle of cashew nuts on top bring a nice extra flavour in.

I think the original recipe probably explains this better than I have but it is really worth an experiment, especially for us since we picked up a super cheap pineapple in the market and had chicken left over in the fridge.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Sesame Crusted Tuna in a Tamari-Wasabi Marinade

On our usual tour of the market this weekend, we walked up to Golborne Fisheries on Golborne Road. This is a true gem of a fish shop with a fanatastic selection. Apparently they stock some of the big department store foodhalls as well, so the quality is excellent. We bought two beautiful thick slices of tuna and paired it with steamed fresh vegetables which were of course also bought from the market that day. Mark had his with King Soba 100% buckwheat noodles to complete the Japanese feel. Tuna is not a fish we eat regularly (for environmental as well as health eg mercury level reasons) but decided to treat ourselves and it was truly a delicious meal.

Sesame Crusted Tuna in a Tamari-Wasabi Marinade

Two tuna steaks
One tablespoon of sesame oil
One teaspoon of powdered wasabi
Two tablespoons of tamari
Handful of mixed black and unhulled cream sesame seeds

Mix the sesame oil, powdered wasabi and tamari together in a glass and pour over the tuna in a shallow dish, making sure that the tuna steaks are well covered in the marinade on both sides. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours. Heat a griddle pan on the hob with a spray of olive oil until hot, then sear the tuna for 2 minutes each side, leaving the middle pinkish.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Leon Superfood Salad

This is our take on the fabulous Superfood Salad, unashamedly based on the Leon favourite. A great mid-week lunch, Mark gets feta cheese with his whereas mine is usually vegan. This week, we added asparagus as the season seems to be upon us and we got some beautiful asparagus going really cheap in the market.

Leon Superfood Salad
1 cup of quinoa
1 head of broccoli
5-10 asparagus spears
Handful of frozen peas
1 avocado
Handful of alfalfa sprouts
Handful of pumpkin seeds
Chopped fresh mint
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil

Cook the quinoa in double the amount of water until the water is absorbed and the grains have swelled and the little thread appears. I throw in the frozen peas towards the end just to thaw them a little. Whilst the quinoa is cooking, steam the broccoli and asparagus (if using) on the bamboo steamers on top of the quinoa pan. Peel and chop the avocado and mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Juice the lemon and mix a splash of olive oil. Pour over the salad, mix well and season with a little freshly squeezed pepper on top. Be generous with the mint - it is this flavour that really makes this salad.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Eggs in Purgatory with Chipotle Orange Black Beans

This is our new favourite light mid-week supper. I got the recipe directly from Whole Foods video blog but as always, altered it slightly from the original. I understand that this is originally an Italian dish but the way it is served here with avocado, the use of chipotle and the added black beans strike me as quite Mexican in style and I definitely love these type of flavours in my food. I have added chipotle into the main tomato sauce since it is difficult to get fire roasted tomatoes here and because I love the smoky chili flavour of chipotles.

Eggs in Purgatory

4 eggs
1 tin tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion
1 soaked and dried chipotle
1 red chili
red chili powder
fresh coriander
balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lime
splash of tabasco (optional)

Fry the chopped onions, garlic and chilis (including chipotle) for around 5 minutes in a deep frying pan. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, a half teaspoon of red chili powder and some chopped fresh coriander. Simmer for around ten minutes. Stir in the lime juice and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and puree the sauce straight in the frying pan using a hand blender. Add a little water if you need to thin it (I just add the liquid from the tin of tomatoes and that's usually enough) and a splash of tabasco if using. Once the sauce is simmering, crack four eggs (leaving a good gap between them) onto the sauce. Cover the frying pan with a lid and let the eggs poach for around 5 minutes or until done. Serve on top of sliced avocados and some salad leaves.

I also like to serve this as a side dish:

Chipotle Orange Black Beans
1 tin black beans
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 orange (juice and rind)
fresh coriander

Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tin of drained and rinsed black beans and heat through. Add the rind and juice of the orange and simmer a little until reduced. Stir through some chopped fresh coriander and serve.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Stuffed Ramiro Peppers

Couldn't resist these beauties in the market last weekend. Such a gorgeous colour and I love to stuff them with fresh, locally made goats cheese that I buy in the monthly farmer's market in Gerrards Cross. I usually buy the Rowan Tree Goats cheese but they weren't at the market on Wednesday so I tried another farm, Homefields, which was very creamy. The beetroots were also a purchase from the farmer's market, will juice the rest of them on the weekend.

Stuffed Ramiro Peppers
Two whole ramiro peppers
Six or so chopped mushrooms
One grated beetroot
Chopped spring onions
Goats cheese
Handful of chopped olives
Handful of pinenuts
Handful of chopped sundried tomatoes
Fresh thyme
Fresh basil
Heat some olive oil in a pan, fry the chopped onions and spring onions for 5 mins or so. Add the grated beetroot and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the olives, sundried tomatoes, herbs and pinenuts and fry everything for another couple of minutes, stirring regularly to heat everything through. Slice some of the goats cheese and mix into the rest of the filling but be careful not to overheat if you have a creamy cheese. Cut the peppers in half, stuff with the filling and then add a few more cubes of sliced goats cheese on top of the peppers. Bake them for around 30 mins until the peppers look done.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Carrot and Arame Salad

Not only am I always looking for unusual salad recipes but am always interested to find new and tasty ways to use seaweed for its incredible nutrition. I half invented this recipe and half stole it from something I saw in the salad bar in Whole Foods. It's always a quick but nutritious light bite that's easy to whip up, since I always keep these ingredients in the cupboard.

Carrot and Arame Salad

Two whole carrots - peeled and grated

Handful of dried arame, soaked until soft - around 10 minutes

Sprinkle of black sesame seeds

Japanese Dressing

Two tablespoons cold-pressed sesame oil

One tablespoon brown rice vinegar

One tablespoon tamari

Half tablespoon of rice mirin

Half teaspoon of wasabi powder

It's simple - mix all the solid ingredients, then mix all the dressing ingredients in a glass and pour. I hear if you let the wasabi powder stand for 10 mins or so the flavours get stronger but I never ever have the patience to wait for this! Mark commented that this would be nice with a piece of salmon for a more substantial and Japanese influenced meal. If I make extra Japanese dressing, I always keep it and it tastes great with prawn and avocado, or spinach and sesame seed.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Buckwheat Noodle Tofu Peanut Salad

Unashamedly, I stole my inspiration for this salad straight from 101 Cookbooks but of course I made a few of my own variations since we didn't have any peanut butter in the house. I've become a stricter vegetarian since reading Diet for a New America (although the Merguez were so tasty the other night and I will continue to eat chicken and seafood) so I guess it just seems right that tofu makes a re-appearance in my diet. Yes, I know Mark doesn't like it but I was really hoping that slathering it in delicious peanut sauce would help him force it down!

Buckwheat Noodle Tofu Peanut Salad

Buckwheat soba noodles
Green beans
Closed cap Mushrooms
Spring onions
Fried Garlic Flakes

Peanut Dressing

Large handful of peanuts
Sesame oil
Boiling water
Dried red chili flakes
2 garlic cloves
Brown rice vinegar

Whilst cooking the noodles in some boiling water, I steamed the green beans and tofu in my bamboo steamers on top. In a saucepan, I water-fried the sliced mushrooms, spring onions and beansprouts. Meanwhile, I combined the dressing ingedients in my hand blender and blended until they reached a pouring consistency. I coated the noodles in the peanut sauce before mixing in the other ingredients and adding a sprinkle of fried garlic flakes for a touch of authenticity and some fresh coriander leaves for decoration.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Banana Spring Rolls with Mango Sorbet and Blueberry Coulis

I managed to pick up a ton of fruit going cheap at the market this weekend. I ended up putting half of it in the dehydrator to make dried fruit and half of it in the freezer to make sorbet or ice cream. Since I had the dehydrator on anyway, I decided to experiment with a dessert I'd be thinking up for a while now. I guess you could as easily call this banana pancakes but I've still got Asia on my mind so decided it reminded me more of spring rolls, although obviously a sweetened version! This is a raw dish but more by accident than anything else and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes light, fruity desserts.
This is going to be my entry for the Cinco de Mango fiesta, organised by the Mele Cotte blog. This is a blog event to celebrate mangoes and also Cinco de Mayo, the big Mexican festival.
Banana Spring Roll Wrappers
Two bananas
Half a cup of rice milk
I blended the bananas and rice milk in my hand blender and spread them across the puree trays in the dehydrator. It is tricky to get the timings just right - I think it probably took about 6 hours at 125 degrees to get them to the right consistency.
Mango Sorbet
Two mangoes, peeled, sliced and frozen
I took them out of the freezer and let them defrost for thirty minutes before putting them through the Champion with the blank plate on. Very simple.
Blueberry Coulis
One packet of blueberries
Splash of agave nectar
Splash of water
Just blended them up with the hand blender until they were a good coulis type consistency.
To put them all together, I peeled the banana off the dehydrator sheets and cut into smaller sheets of similar lengths. I put two dessert spoons of the mango sorbet at one end of the banana sheet and rolled it up like a spring roll but leaving the ends open. I drizzled the coulis over the top and served immediately. Best eaten with your fingers definitely.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Fennel, White Bean and Merguez Soup

I picked up some Merguez sausages at my local farmers market (Gerrards Cross, 2nd Weds of every month and a real highlight of my month!). I wasn't really too sure what to do with them, we tried them with some chickpeas and smoked paprika which was tasty if a little unexciting. When I stumbled across this recipe on the Sunday Times online website, it sounded a really interesting combination of flavours and it actually turned out way better that I could ever have imagined. It's definitely become a new flat favourite soup and we really do love our soups.

Fennel, White Bean and Merguez Soup

One bulb fennel
Two sticks celery
Two garlic cloves
Olive oil
Chicken stock
Flat leaf parsley
Ground coriander seed
Two bay leaves
One tine of white cannellini beans
Three Merguez sausages

Heat oil in a large pan and sweat the chopped fennel, crushed garlic and chopped celery for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock (I used about a pint's worth), stalks of the parsley leaves, ground coriander and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the sausages until cooked. Remove the bay leaves and puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. Add in the tin of drained and rinsed white beans. Pour the soup and beans into a bowl. Chop the sausages and scatter them on top of the soup. Finish with chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.

This just about made enough for two for a light supper - this is not a very photogenic soup but the flavours were just incredible.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Coriander and Cashew Nut Pesto

I wanted to try making an Asian style pesto sauce - thought it would be great over salads. It also turned out to be raw, but this wasn't really deliberate.

Coriander and Cashew Nut Pesto

One bunch coriander

Two tablespoons cashew nut butter

Small knob of peeled ginger

One garlic clove

One tablespoon of sesame oil

One deseeded red chili

Juice of one lime

One stalk lemongrass chopped

I put all of the ingredients in a my handheld food blender and whizzed it up. If the consistency is too thick, just add a little water until it reaches the right consistency for pouring.

Here, I have served it in a salad of steamed cabbage, steamed broccoli, bean sprouts, sliced mushrooms and prawns.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Vegan Spelt Blueberry Muffins

The obsession with baking continues - quite a departure from how I usually cook but it is becoming quite addictive. I baked these beauties on Sunday morning before yoga and the boy munched them practically straight from the oven. I wanted to do something with the spelt flour I had from the pizza bases but also to do something vegan. I couldn't find an exact recipe to follow so I basically made something up using the excellent Veginity as inspiration but also combined with a few ideas from the huge amount of muffin recipes on offer from Fat Free. I didn't really fancy using an egg replacer as it somehow seemed too artificial, so I got moisture from homemade apple sauce instead. Overall, I was pretty pleased with the results and have been enjoying these for breakfast a few days this week.

Vegan Spelt Blueberry Muffins

One cup Spelt Flour

Half cup oat bran

1 Dessert spoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1/2 cup of blueberries

1/2 cup applesauce (I stewed 2 peeled apples in some water and honey, drained and pureed it)

1/3 cup agave nectar

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then stir in the wet ingredients. Once the consistency feels right, pour into muffin cups in a muffin baking tray and bake for 25 mins at around 180 degrees or until a skewer comes out clean if poked into the muffins.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Tamarind Coconut Prawns with Steamed Cabbage and Shiitake Mushrooms

After having spent so many years living and working in Asia, I do have a strong tendency to cook Asian inspired food. The prawn recipe was one the lovely and heavily pregnant Kim cooked for us when we went back to Vietnam in January and it remained one of Mark's best meals in a trip full of amazing meals. She didn't give me the recipe but I kind of made it up and it tasted fine.

Tamarind Coconut Prawns

1 packet cooked peeled tiger prawns

tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 red chili

teaspoon of tamarind paste

half block of coconut cream in a cup of water

coconut oil

I like to cook with coconut oil as it is one of the most stable oils you can cook with, as well as being a more nutritious option. It is quite high in fat however so I only use a dessert spoon's worth.

Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan, fry the ginger, garlic and chopped fresh chili. Add the coconut cream or coconut milk. Stir in the tamarind paste. Bring the liquid to the boil and lower the heat, so that the liquid simmers and reduces in consistency. Simmer for 15 mins or so or until the liquid is creamy and full of flavour. Add the prawns in at the last minute just to heat through and serve.

I served this with another Asian style cabbage dish which I was inspired to create after reading this post which I found via the absolutely wonderful and inspirational Tastespotting.

Steamed Cabbage with Shiitake Mushrooms

Half white cabbage

Handful of dried shiitake mushrooms

Sliced red chili

Thinly sliced spring onion

Fried garlic flakes

I simply sliced a half white cabbage in my bamboo steamers and steamed it for about 3-5 mins. I soaked some dried shiitake mushrooms in a cup of hot water for 5 mins, thinly sliced them then combined them with the cabbage in a saucepan along with some more fresh chopped chili, spring onion and a sprinkle of Thai style fried garlic flakes (my new favourite authentic Asian ingredient - although clearly covered in bad oils!). I stirred it all through and served alongside the prawns for a tasty accompaniment.