Piquant Prawn Salad

piquant-prawn-salad

Having just moved out to the countryside, complete with egg laying chickens on my new snow-covered back-door step, I have been automatically drawn to cooking big hearty food – pies, casseroles, roast dinners, muffins… This weekend, the carb-fest continued with rustic Italian chestnut gnocchi smothered in tomato and garlic sauce for dinner, followed by a brunch of fresh poached eggs and smoked salmon on granary toast. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling over faced and over fed.

Fresh, zingy Thai food to the rescue! There is no better way to cleanse your palette and rejuvenate your smugness than by creating a fragrant, spicy and ‘full of goodness’ salad. I reached out to Rick and a few of my other Thai cook books for inspiration but no one had exactly what I wanted, so I went with my instinct – throwing together some prawns, herbs, limes and strips of veg to create this piquant salad.

 

Ingredients

2 red chilli (heat to taste)

3 x cloves garlic

Handful green beans (trimmed)

cucumber

1 x carrot

2 spring onions

2 large limes

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp light brown sugar

Handful each of basil, mint and coriander

Cup salted peanuts

1 serving of straight to wok thread noodles

1 x pack of cooked king prawns

Method

Firstly, de-seed and roughly chop the chillies and put them along with the garlic and green beans in to a pestle and mortar and pound until they start to muddle.

Add half of each of the herbs and use the pestle to bruise them into the garlic mixture. Then add the juice of both limes, the sugar and the fish sauce and mix (taste as you go).

Next, prepare the cucumber, carrot and spring onion, all very thinly sliced lengthways or peeled into ribbons, and throw into a large mixing bowl.

Roughly chop the remaining herbs and add to the bowl.

Boil the kettle and in another bowl, cover the noodles with warm water and soak for 10 minutes to separate. Meanwhile, rinse the peanuts in a colander under cold water.

Once the noodles are separated, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and add to the salad bowl, add the peanuts, prawns and the contents of the mortar.

Using your hands, gently toss everything around to mix in the bowl and serve.

 

 

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Gorgeous Golden Thai Rice

Golden-Thai-Rice-1024x768

I rarely wing it in the kitchen, but when I do I make sure I scribble notes along the way – just in case it works! I came across this Thai rice recipe in my kitchen note pad, between my list of ”blogs to write” and ”quick tea ideas”. It must have been a spark of inspiration to warm up a wintery evening and I am happy to share!

You will need:

1 finely chopped chilli

2 stalks lemon grass – halved and bruised

2 chopped spring onions

1 cup of rice (preferably Jasmine)

2.5 cups of water

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fish sauce

pinch of all spice

pinch black pepper

glug of olive oil

Method:

Fry the spring onions, chilli & lemongrass for a couple of minutes before adding the rice. Stir the rice to coat in the oil before adding the water.

Add the turmeric and all spice then stir and simmer until all the water has been absorbed.

Once all the water is absorbed, take the pan off the heat, cover with a tea towel and leave to steam for around 15 minutes.

Stir in the pepper and serve. Enjoy with Thai curry, chilli fried prawns or Thai steamed salmon.

 

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Spud U Like

spud-u-like

There really is only one place to go after an intense early morning ski lesson at Chill Factor in Manchester, and that is the food hall at Trafford Centre!

With an abundance of fast food chains it is hard to break your way into nutritious territory, however with Spud-U-Like’s new light bites (which, don’t be fooled, are still US size portions) you can almost get there!

I love working out how to recreate dishes at home and these dishes of crushed baked potatoes, salad leaves, crumbled creamy feta and a lemon and basil vinaigrette are a no-brainer for an easy mid-week dinner.

All you will need is:

Potatoes (any!)
Rocket or mixed dark green salad leaves
1 packet of feta cheese (preferably low cal – it is a Wednesday after all)

For the dressing:
2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful of basil – roughly chopped
3 spring onions – finely sliced
Salt & pepper

Cook the potatoes any way you want – bake them, roast them, boil them, even mash them – whatever you find easiest and tastiest.

Mix all your dressing ingredients together in a jug or small bowl and season to taste – give them a good mix with a fork.

Once the potatoes are ready, put on to the plate of your choice, throw on a large handful of leaves, crumble on half a packet of feta and drizzle with dressing.

Serve, enjoy and feel healthily smug!

 

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Yo Yo Bar & Restaurant, Shipley

malaysian-chilli-prawn-curry

I first knew of Yo Yo’s when they called up my office asking for some help with their website search visibility… I thought my luck was in, being able to combine the ‘day job’ with my passion for food & restaurants. Looking at their site, I was surprised I’d never heard of Yo Yo’s with it only being 10 minutes from my house, but when I started mentioning it to friends quite a few seemed to know about the place, a well kept secret it seemed! Sadly, nothing came of the work enquiry but it did prompt me to pay them a visit.

When we pulled up outside I could have been forgiven for thinking we’d ended up at the wrong place, completely over the top window display marketing and offers galore plastered floor to ceiling really makes it look like a chavvy diner and watering hole, like a Yates’s almost. But once we’d made it through the double doors and fought our way through every type of brightly coloured leaflet, flyer and poster they could throw at us, we were seated by a very friendly young waiter.

The menu is varied and separated by region so you can mix and match courses from China, Japan, Thailand & Malaysia! I admit I was dubious given that there was so much choice but was very soon put in my place, at the table enjoying a delicious starter of Japanese deep fried squid with a seriously fiery chilli dipping sauce. For my main course I was torn between a couple of things on the menu but with the help of our waiter (who like me seemed to be on the “spicier the better” team that evening), I opted for one of their newest additions, Malaysian chilli prawn curry with pandan coconut rice and it was pretty special. So hot, but fresh, clean and tasty to balance it. The highlight of this gorgeous dish was the accompaniments – cucumber, pineapple and red onion. When I mixed these with the juicy chilli prawns, it was an explosion of fresh, sharp flavours that combined to give a real taste of Malaysia, I don’t think I had anything as tasty when I travelled there!

My boyfriend and I were equally impressed with the food and agreed that the atmosphere of this Asian-fusion-restaurant-meets-party-venue was friendly, welcoming and relaxed. Having experienced the place, I think the over the top marketing could really work if they developed into a small chain. There’s nowhere else quite like it that I know of, with the same range, quality and value, they even gave us a 15% discount card for the entire bill on our next visit so we will definitely go back to sample some more regional Asian delights!

We ate:

Japanese deep-fried squid with hot chilli dipping sauce
Chinese duck tortilla wrap
Malaysian chilli prawn curry with pandan coconut rice
Thai chicken green curry

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Maluko, Leeds

Maluko-Leeds-Tapas

There’s nothing that tantalises my taste buds more than being invited to sample new menus! And a few weeks ago, whilst enjoying a girly shopping day with my mum, that’s exactly what we did.

Maluko are a new Polynesian themed offering in the top end of Leeds City Centre, within The Light shopping complex. The company group (who also own Walkabout) are replacing the chain Bar Risa with this new more fun and colourful bar with the Leeds branch being the tester launch.

Maluko-Leeds

So other than the decor face lift, Tiki lounge and a new set of uber-friendly staff – What’s the difference? They are still in the same location, and serve the same drinks – why should this work better than the student’s second favourite (to Tiger Tiger) – Bar Risa?

Well, they have a new food offering – an eclectic menu I was assured was all prepared freshly on site.

The menu was great for lunch time as they have price tiered tapas (as well as all the burgers, pastas and grills you would expect). Tapas menus A, B and C all sounded really really good but with the entire menu and team of staff at our disposal, we opted for one of each dish on menu B:

Chicken and chorizo skewers
Hummous & veg dippers
Crispy duck
Haddock goujons with tartar sauce
Chunky chips
Selection of breads, olives and olive oil

The food was great for a lunch time sitting during a spot of shopping and we were extremely well looked after.

Our host at Maluko explained to me how they would like to attract a more corporate business lunch clientele, and although I think they will struggle to compete with the likes of Bar and Grill, Jamie’s Italian and even Browns for this, their menu is cheap and cheerful enough to win the hearts of many-a-student and more public sector professionals inevitably based at the top end of town around the university and hospital, to keep them coming back for fun food and even funner drinks!

Bar image courtesy of barmagazine.co.uk

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Rick Stein’s Pasta Alla Norma

pasta-alla-norma

This is a great interpretation of a pasta classic from the Mediterranean master himself. Watching repeats of any Rick Stein series is my favourite way to pass the time on a sick day, or a lazy Sunday and this pasta alla Norma recipe made me pause, rewind and grab my notepad.

A combination of ripe tomato, salt, squidgy aubergine, hot chilli flakes and al dente pasta gives a mouth watering combination of classic Italian flavour and a mountain of texture. The simplicity of it and the luxurious taste means it works as a refined weekend treat or a rough and ready mid-week quickie!

Watch Rick make the dish

To make pasta alla Norma:

Slice an aubergine in to batons, put in a colander, shake with lots of salt.

Put your preferred pasta (mine is spaghetti) in a pan of boiling unsalted water and simmer.

Tip onto a clean dry tea towel and pat dry.

Toss the aubergine into a pan of hot olive oil, lift back out into the colander and set to one side.

Chop and crush 2 garlic cloves together with a pinch of salt and fry in the same pan you used for the aubergine.

Add a teaspoon of chilli flakes and a large handful of fresh chopped tomatoes.

Tip in the aubergine and add some fresh black pepper.

Simmer on a low heat until the aubergine is warmed through.

Drain the pasta and tip into the sauce – mix and serve!

You can top your dish with crumbled feta, torn mozzarella, whole basil leaves, parmesan shavings or simply a glug of good extra virgin olive oil.

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