Off in search of the sun…

… Normal service will resume in a few weeks, with plenty of Portuguese related food posts!

Sticky Vietnamese Pork

I’m currently nearing the end of a long, busy, ridiculously hectic and all round fairly crappy week and my brain seems to have turned to mulch. I can’t string any sentences together to say anything particularly coherent but I can still share a very tasty recipe 🙂 We made this on Sunday which I later found out was Vietnamese Independence Day, how apt!

This serves two;

  • thinly sliced pork tenderloin
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 stalks chopped lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 200ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 red chillis
  • 3 tbsps roasted salted peanuts
  • flat rice noodles
  • small bunch chopped coriander
  • small bunch chopped mint

I also added some pak choi and red pepper to get some veggies in!

Make a marinade for the pork by mixing the fish sauce, tumeric, lemongrass, crushed garlic, 20g of sugar, sesame oil and most of the coriander together. Leave the pork to marinade for around an hour.

Heat the vinegar and remaining sugar in a pan and boil until thickened, this creates the sticky sauce. Allow to cool then add the chilli and peanuts.

Stir fry the pork until browned and  the pak choi and pepper if using. Serve on a bed of noodles and pour over the sticky sauce. Garnish with the remaining coriander and some chopped mint. Delicious!

Parsnip, Pecan & Maple Cheesecake

We went to my favourite cafe in Chorlton this afternoon, Tea Hive. It’s a lovely little place serving inventive, delicious and always massive slabs of cake as well as tasty and equally massive sandwiches and salads with fresh ingredients and really lovely homademade chutneys and relishes. They serve lots of nice lose leaf teas in mismatched tea pots and vintage style china teacups and saucers. They have a lovely peaceful little courtyard garden out the back where you can sit in the dappled sun and enjoy the use of oversized cups and teapots as plant pots!

Previous favourites have included honey and ginger cake. Today, despite being sorely tempted by the orange and almond cake, I spotted something delicious-looking billed as parsnip, pecan and maple cheesecake. I was intrigued and had to taste it! I can imagine the use of parsnip in cake to create a fluffy, moist sponge, in much the same way as carrot cake or the use of avocado, courgette or beetroot. But in cheesecake? Interesting! I am also a big fan of pecan so we settled on this.

I’m not usually a massive cheesecake fan, but the bearded one is, which is the other reason we settled on this particular delicacy (the pieces are so massive we decided to share a bit so as not to spoil our appetites for tea later –  we had something good planned, which I’ll post another day!!) This cheesecake however was really, really good, the topping was super light and fluffy and not too cloying or rich at all – my usual complaints with cheesecake. The base, I think, was ginger biscuits – another big tick for me! The gingery flavour combined with the pecan and maple was so delicious!

I guess the use of parsnip will have made the mixture really moist without making it too heavy, but as someone who doesn’t usually go for cheesecake, and has never made it, I’m not sure. Anyone else out there made anything similar?

Prawn, Mango and Sweet Potato Red Thai Curry

I first  found this recipe online somewhere a couple of years ago, I’m afraid I can’t remember where, and with a few wee tweaks here and there, it fast became one of my all time favourite meals. It’s spicy, but not too spicy, it’s sweet, but not too sweet, it’s tangy, but not too tangy and it’s slurpy. It’s completely moreish.

As with many of my favourite recipes, I have little habits that go with the cooking of it. For this one, I like to have the kitchen completely to myself (don’t get me wrong, the OH and I like cooking together, and, usually manage to agree on what we’re doing, but this has always been of my babies and I like to enjoy some alone time when cooking it! Also, I tend to make quite a mess when cooking this so like to spread out…) I always drink a glass of wine while making it, and I always have some feel good funky music on as I go.

This is what you’ll need;

For the paste.  (always handy to keep some in the fridge);

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 2-3 red chillis (I include the seeds as well)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Chunk of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 2 tsps corriander seeds (crushed)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (crushed)
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • zest and juice 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

Whizz together in blender. Keep in a jar in the fridge.

For the curry;

  • 200g king prawns
  • 1 medium mango
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 or 4 spring onions depending on size
  • Small chunk of ginger
  • 1 and a half tbsps red thai curry paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • sesame oil
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 200 ml coconut milk (I use light and don’t think it impacts on the flavour at all. The bonus with using 200ml is that it leaves you with half a can of coconut milk, perfect excuse to whip up a little coconut ice cream! 🙂 )
  • 2 tsps fish sauce
  • fresh coriander to serve

Heat some sesame oil in a large wok and fry the crushed garlic and grated ginger, after a few mintues add the chopped spring onions. After another minute or two add the curry paste.

Whisk in the coconut milk, fish sauce and chicken stock and simmer for around 5 minutes. Meanwhile peel and cube the sweet potato then add to the sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.

Add the prawns to the pan then after a few minutes, once they’ve begun to cook through, add the peeled and chopped mango and the lime juice. Cook for another minute or two then serve with freshly chopped coriander. This always leaves quite a bit of sauce so I serve in a bowl, slurpy and yummy 🙂

You can probably tell that a) I’d had a couple of glasses of wine already and that b) I was so looking forward to eating this that I couldn’t really be bothered with nice presentation or faffing around with pictures!

Mediterranean Baked Fish

As some of you may know, I’m off for a wee jaunt around Portugal next week, and beginning to get really rather excited. Sunshine. Food. Culture. Sunshine. Wine. Food. Sunshine.Food. Exploring. Architecture. Sunshine.Food. Oh yes!

I keep daydreaming about sitting outside a local restaurant in Lisbon, at a street side table, feeling the lovely warmth of the evening sun caress my shoulders as I watch the passers by and make up stories about their comings and goings, while awaiting the arrival of a lovely crisp refreshing glass of vino and some simple but delicious freshly caught fish and potatoes.

So feeling inspired last Sunday for a simple yet flavoursome fish meal, we treated ourselves to two sea bass from the fishmonger. I stuffed them with lemon and cooked them in olive oil and more lemon and some dill along with some delicious yellowy flavoursome potatoes, red and white onions, garlic and carrots. I was quite pleased with my sudden inspiration half way through cooking and tossed in some almonds for the last 5 minutes, this added a nice crunch and another flavour, it was really tasty!!

This was, of course, served with a crisp glass of white wine. Unfortunately it wasn’t enjoyed outside in the sun however, instead we sat in our dining room and watched the rain pour down the window as if someone was stood on our roof chucking buckets of water over, while listening to the wind howl…. here’s to one week to Portugal!!