Recipe: Vietnamese-style grilled chicken thighs

So I’m getting very excited as I’m going to be heading off to Vietnam soon. A country I’ve never been to and have been longing to visit for a while. I don’t quite know what to expect but I do know the food is going to be fabulous.

So, inspired by my upcoming trip, here’s a simple and totally delicious recipe to bring a little bit of Vietnam into your homes.

I love cooking with chicken thighs, they absorb so much flavour and don’t dry out. The addition of sugar to the marinade means there’s a slight caramelisation when you grill which adds a delightful sweetness and a little bit of crunch.

You could serve this with rice or noodles for a more substantial dish. For a light meal it’s perfect with this simple, crunchy salad – including a much-used ingredient in Vietnam – fresh mint.

Enjoy!

Vietnamese-style grilled chicken thighs

Serves 2

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The succulent sliced thighs on a bed of green

4 deboned chicken thighs

2 tbsps soya sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsps brown sugar

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 dried chilli, chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Mix together all the above ingredients well to make a marinade. Add the chicken thighs and coat well. Cover and marinate for 3 to 4 hours, turning a few times.

Heat the grill and cook the chicken thighs flat for about 8 mins on each side until slightly blackened and caramelised. Baste with the marinade throughout the cooking process.

In the meantime make the salad by mixing together the three ingredients below.

For the salad

1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced into chunks

1 small packet of peanuts

1 large handful of mint, leaves torn

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A simple salad adds crunch to the dish

Remove the chicken from the grill and slice diagonally.

Serve with the salad.

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The chicken sizzles and browns under the grill


Cooking with tasty Yorkshire lamb in Malton

So back in May I entered a couple of my new lamb mince recipes in the Lamb Recipe Challenge and my tasty lamb koftas won first prize! How fabulous is that! My prize was a trip to the foodie town of Malton in Yorkshire for a Cooking with Yorkshire lamb workshop.

Try the recipe for my delicious award-winning lamb koftas.

Sweet and spiced lamb koftas to savour

Sweet and spiced lamb koftas to savour

LAMB BADGE

And then it was time to discover more secrets about cooking lamb. In October we hopped on the train from London, heading for the lovely Yorkshire town of Malton. It’s described as the foodie capital of Yorkshire and despite being relatively small it’s packed with individual shops including three butchers, a raft of bakeries, fruit and veg sellers and a monthly market, among other things. You can read all about the town and what to do there in a later post.

Today we’re heading for the Malton Cookery School for some butchery know-how with lamb, starting off preparing the cuts we’re going to use and then making a range of tasty dishes. We were presented with an impressive array of meat and under the careful eye of our teacher Gilly began to slice and trim, using every bit of the lamb on offer.

I’m sharing a couple of simple recipes we cooked on our course which are perfect lamb accompaniments.

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These are the cuts we started with

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After our skilled butchering we were left with these

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The class focusses on their tasks

Lamb cutlets were trimmed, flash fried and served with a simple and amazingly simple and tasty soubise sauce which I had to share the recipe for with you. This sauce is great with all types of meat.

Soubise sauce

30g butter

225g onion, chopped very fine

4 tbsp double cream

For the béchamel sauce

20g butter

20g plain flour

300g milk

Make the bechamel sauce by stirring the flour into the melted butter, adding the milk and stirring until smooth.

Soften the onions in the butter until very soft but with no colour. Add the cream and the béchamel sauce. Blend in a blender until smooth and serve with the lamb cutlets.

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A luscious lamb lollipop with creamy dipping sauce

We used the shoulder cuts to make a rich, satisfying tagine.

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A comforting bowl of lamb tagine

We also prepared a chunky ratatouille to serve with the king of our cuts – the lamb fillet. I love this recipe as it’s not mushy like ratatouille can be, rather a bed of colourful vegetables topped with a tomato sauce makes the perfect bed for the lamb.

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A rainbow of crunchy vegetables

Lamb fillet with crunchy ratatouille

Serves 4

For the tomato sauce

1kg ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

For the ratatouille

Large knob of butter

1 red onion, chopped

1 red pepper, skinned and chopped

1 courgette, chopped into small dice

1 small aubergine, diced

1 plum tomato, skinned and diced

For the meat

2 cuts of best end of neck

1 tbsp oil

To make the sauce

Cook the tomatoes, onions and garlic in a splash of oil until very soft. Blend until smooth.

Cook the diced vegetables in the butter in the following order: onion, pepper, courgette, aubergine and tomato. Make sure they still have a good bite to them, we don’t want mushy veg!

For the meat

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pan and seal the lamb on all sides, cooking for about 10 mins. Set aside to rest while you dish up the ratatouille.

Reheat the tomato sauce and spoon onto the plates, top with the diced veg and slice the rested lamb fillet into noisettes. Arrange on the vegetables and serve.

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Rare and tender sliced fillet of lamb

Find out about the range of courses at Malton Cookery School. There’s plenty to choose from including cooking with seafood, game, meat and even baking.

It’s a really enjoyable, fun and informational experience and I came away with plenty of ideas and inspiration for new lamb feasts. Bring on the next #LoveLambChallenge

Recipes: Simple salads with crunch

Okay, I know autumn is here, but we did have something of a lovely, elongated Indian summer which gave me the excuse to come up with two new salad recipes for the unexpected barbecues we managed to squeeze in.

And what a pleasure it was to make them as I’d been sent a set of Robert Welch Signature knives which made all that inevitable salad chopping a total breeze. Find out more details about these amazing unique knives below. And do try the recipes and let me know what you think.

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The cooks knife makes food prep a joy

CRUNCHY GREEN SALAD

Serves 6

2 large cos lettuces, trimmed and torn into pieces

5 celery sticks, chopped into small pieces

6 large spring onions, chopped on the diagonal into small pieces

1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks

2 handfuls of seedless green grapes, halved

3 avocados, peeled and sliced

For the dressing

3 tbsps fruit vinegar (I used raspberry and rhubarb that I bought the week before in Yorkshire)

6 tbsps olive oil

Chop all your ingredients and lay them out on a platter in layers, starting with the lettuce as a base and finishing with the avocado.

Mix your dressing and save for pouring over when you serve.

That’s it!

Top tip

To stop your avocado from going brown keep the pips from the fruit and place among the slices. Make sure you include the pip from each one.

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A salad in shades of green

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The final step – a topping of avocado

TRIPLE C COLESLAW with cabbage, carrots, cucumber and sweet chilli mayo

Serves 4

Half a Savoy cabbage, sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into small batons

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into small batons

For the dressing

6 tbsps mayonnaise

2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce

Mix the cabbage, carrot and cucumber together.

Mix the mayonnaise with the chilli sauce.

Combine the two, making sure the vegetables are well coated with the chill mayo.

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Coleslaw with a spicy bite

Robert Welch Signature knives combine German stainless steel and a Japanese-style blade edge. The handle is smooth and makes the knife comfortable and easy to use. The range is available to buy individually or within sets. Individual prices range from £22.00 to £59.

Find at more at robertwelch.com

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The handy wall-mounted magnetic holder

 

Top tips to improve your diet

We all know the importance of eating healthily and are always looking for ways to make it easier. But why wait until 1 January to embark on a new regime. It is only October, so by making changes now, you can look and feel better by Christmas, rather than Easter!

Time waits for no man, so don’t put off changing your diet for the better until everybody else is doing it – try these three easy ways to improve on what you eat today.

Supplement with Superfoods

We’ve all heard the term ‘superfood’, and probably know it means particularly nutrient dense things like spirulina that gram for gram, offer large quantities of a whole range of vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other goodies. Of course, these things are often pretty hard to just add in to your diet, and you probably won’t find spirulina or its counterparts on offer at the sandwich shop where you buy your lunch (given that it is basically algae from a pond). So how do you get the benefits of superfoods without adopting some weird juice regimen and buying a load of strange green powders? Simply by taking organic supplements. These are usually capsules you take in the dosage recommended on the pack, which give you a weighty boost of good nutrition without affecting what you eat.

Eat More Whole Foods

The term whole foods is one that confuses people, because they think this means you should only eat foods in their whole form (for example fish with the heads on or potatoes with skin), or that once you mix foods together in a recipe they no longer count. This is basically madness. All whole foods are are foods that, when you start working with them, are just one thing. A piece of chicken, a tomato, a carrot, and so on. Cooking a bunch of whole foods together to make them into a delicious curry does not stop them being whole foods, but means you have a healthier curry than if you bought a ready made one with additives in it.

Yes, some common foods like bread are not really whole foods, and neither are most sauces or desserts, unless you make them yourself out of whole foods. By cutting down on pre-processed foods and cooking yourself with ingredients, or ordering whole foods like cuts of meat when you go out for dinner, your diet can become much healthier without compromising on taste.

Drink More Fluids

You always hear that you should drink more water, but actually, the water component in any drink, aside from diuretic drinks like alcohol, coffee and dandelion tea all count towards keeping you hydrated. Fruit juices, sports drinks, tea, sugar free soft drinks and other beverages all actually count, so while water has a few other benefits, if it bores you, try upping your fluid intake in other ways.

These are just three easy changes that will help you improve your diet for the rest of 2016, as well as for 2017.

 

Recipe: Baked prawn tortilla canapés

Today I’m back in the kitchen, at last! Hasn’t been enough creative cooking going on in my house recently, time to change that. Having just got back from Spain I’ve got tortilla on my mind and as we were having friends round for drinks I thought I’d experiment by trying a baked, herby sort of tortilla with the luxury of added prawns.

It’s a really easy recipe with few ingredients and very little work. And the outcome is delicious. The only slightly tricky bit is getting your tortilla out in one piece, take care and gently loosen it from the bowl using a knife and thin spatula if you need to.

You can serve these tasty bites warm or cold. And my soya and sesame sauce is delicious. Enjoy!

I served up my delicate canapés on my new Judge Slate platter. Love a bit of slate and this large platter (it’s 40cmx20cm) certainly showed them off beautifully. There was even room to fit my little bowls of dipping sauce on the side. Perfect.

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The baked tortilla with its pinks and greens

Makes about about 18 pieces

4 eggs

4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped

1 tbsp sunflower oil

100g small, peeled, cooked prawns

For the dipping sauce

2 tbsps rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 dried chilli, crumbled

A dash of fish sauce

Beat the eggs and stir the spring onion and coriander through the mixture.

Pour the sunflower oil into an oven proof baking dish and make sure it coats the bottom of the bowl.

Pour in the egg mixture.

Place the prawns evenly through the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 180C for about 20mins or until the omelette is set and cooked through. Stick a skewer through the middle to test, if it comes out clean your tortilla is ready.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Run a knife gently around the edges and under the tortilla to loosen. Place a plate on top of the dish and flip over, the tortilla should come out easily.

Turn it back over so the prawn side is up and slice into small wedges.

Serve with hot chilli sauce and my soya and sesame sauce as above.

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The perfect display on my new Judge Slate platter

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Close up to the tasty bites

To find out more about Judge’s great range visit www.judgecookware.co.uk

 

Creamy baked eggs with garlic and chilli

Baked eggs are an old favourite of my childhood. Popped into the oven topped with cheese, a simple dish that makes such a comforting breakfast. Of course there are many ways to bake an egg and this indulgent creamy recipe makes for a fabulous light lunch – or even a starter for dinner.

This easy recipe with few ingredients tastes absolutely stupendous. I added one chilli for a bit of bite but if you’re a fan of hot food experimenting with your chilli-ness.

I cooked this in Spain where I bought these beautiful little dishes in the local ceramico for €1.30. I’m sure they made the eggs taste even better!

CREAMY BAKED EGGS WITH GARLIC AND CHILLI

Serves 4

eggs

A bowl of delicious creaminess

20g butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

150g mushrooms, chopped

1 dried red chilli, crushed

100g ham, chopped

200ml double cream

Ground black pepper

4 eggs

150g mature cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt the butter in a pan and fry the garlic, mushrooms, and chilli over a medium heat for 10 mins.

Add the ham and fry for another 5 mins.

Remove from the heat and stir in the double cream. Season with black pepper.

Divide the mix between four ramekins and leave to stand for about 10 mins to let the flavours develop.

Make a hollow in the middle of the mixture and carefully break in an egg.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until the egg whites have set.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle the grated cheddar on top and bake for another 5 mins.

Serve immediately.

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