Recipe: Traditional Vietnamese Pho

Today it’s time to get back in the kitchen and cook something Vietnamese. I loved the food so much on my recent trip there and even did a cookery course at the wonderful Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa.

Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world. It incorporates lots of fresh herbs like lemongrass, mint, coriander and basil and spices like ginger, chilli and cinnamon. You’re often given a plateful of aromatic herbs to add to your dish at the table.

We ate Pho at the rooftop bar of The Majestic Hotel in Saigon. A huge bowl of tasty broth with plenty of noodles and the meat of your choice, served with that aromatic plateful.

I left Vietnam armed with recipes to try at home and today it was time to make some Pho. It does take some time as the flavours need to infuse properly, but it’s very little work with amazing results. Go on, give it at try.

Traditional Pho noodle soup with chicken

Serves 4

The tasty noodle soup topped with herbs and fresh lime

1 x 3cm piece of ginger, peeled

2 shallots, peeled

1 litre of vegetable stock

1.5 litres of water

2 pieces of Star Anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cloves

Half a tsp of chilli powder

2 chicken breasts

200g rice noodles, soaked and ready to add to the broth

To serve

150g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, sliced into small pieces

Handful of mint, chopped

Handful of basil, torn

2 limes, halved

Place the ginger and shallots on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30mins until soft and cooked.

Leave to cool and then put in a blender to make a paste.

Place a large pot on the hob and turn on to the lowest setting. Add the vegetable stock and water, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger and shallot paste and stir.

Leave to heat through and bubble slightly for half an hour.

Add the two whole chicken breasts and leave on low for them to poach for one hour.

Meanwhile, arrange the bean sprouts, spring onions, mint, basil and lime on a plate.

After the chicken has cooked for an hour, remove it from the pan and add the noodles. Warm through for about 5 mins and while that is happening, slice the chicken.

Ladle out the noodles and broth into a bowl. Place the sliced chicken on top.

Serve with the herb selection which gets piled on top of the chicken broth mix.

Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and tuck in.

Pho chopped with tender poached chicken

Today’s top tips

Pho works equally well with beef. Instead of the chicken breasts, add 250g of rump steak and let it simmer in the mixture for about 2 hours.

You should always tear fresh basil rather than chop it to retain maximum flavour.

Try different adding different herbs like coriander or parsley to your Pho.

Vietnamese cooking doesn’t use a lot of chilli but if you’re a fan of hot stuff, up the chilli in this recipe.

Pho is also great for vegetarians, simply leave out the meat.

It also works well with fresh prawns. Just drop them in to the simmering mixture for about five minutes before serving, until they go pink.

I’ve used 200g of noodles here, if you’re a big noodle fan, add more – it can make a substantial meal.

Adding a plateful of crunch and freshness

Do you have a favourite Vietnamese recipe? What did you eat while you were visiting Vietnam. Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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

 

The Cook with Biltong Club: Biltong, goat’s cheese and avocado bruschetta

It’s the beginning of August, where is 2014 going? It seems to be super-speedy. Anyway, a new month means it’s time for my monthly biltong recipe. I love this mix of creamy goats cheese and avocado, spicy biltong and refreshing mint.

Really quick and easy to prepare, these bruschettas make the perfect starter or wonderful snacks with those alfresco summer drinks. And I think they look stunning, too!

goats cheese avo

A plateful of delectable bruschetta

1 loaf fresh ciabatta

i large clove of garlic, peeled

150g soft goat’s cheese

2 avocados

100g Chichester Biltong Company peri peri biltong

2 handfuls of fresh mint leaves, pulled from the stem

Slice the ciabatta and lightly toast it on one side.

Rub the garlic clove over the toasted side.

Spread generously with the goat’s cheese.

Peel and slice the avocado and place a couple of slices on top of the goat’s cheese.

Top with the biltong slices and mint and your bruschetta are ready to eat!

ingredient

All the ingredients ready to go

Join our club and get cooking with biltong

If you can’t find biltong in the shops near you, don’t despair. If you live in the UK you can order online from the Chichester Biltong Company. Their tasty biltong comes in different flavours and you can select how wet and fatty you’d like your meat to be, too.

Go to http://www.biltongcompany.co.uk and enter the code EATINGCOVENT when you order.

Do you have any inventive ideas for using biltong? I’d love to try them out, please get in touch.

Please also like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CookWithBiltong

I love my sunflower plates which are from www.miafleur.com They’re just perfect for serving up summery snacks on a sunny day.


The Cook with Biltong Club: biltong, broad beans and garlic

It’s time for my monthly recipe using my favourite ingredient: biltong.

This dish was inspired by a beautiful ham and broad bean starter I’ve eaten in restaurants in Spain. I thought, if ham, why not biltong? It worked beautifully. And you don’t just have to take my word for it. My ever-keen South African neighbours came over for a tasting and voted it their favourite biltong dish I’ve forced asked them to try.

Dishes really don’t come much simpler than this, three ingredients, a little bit of olive oil, a quick fry and you’re done. A different and tasty starter on the table in minutes.

Serves 4 as a starter

The dish sizzles on the stove top

The dish sizzles on the stove top

2 tbsps olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

100g biltong, cut into small slices

500g broad beans, podded and peeled

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic for about 5 mins until it’s softened.

Add the beans and fry for another 5 mins until heated through.

Add the biltong and fry for another 5 mins.

Serve at the table in the pan for everyone to dig in.

Top tip

I always double pod broad beans which means taking them out of the pod and then removing the skin from each bean. It’s time consuming but I find it quite therapeutic. And I think the beans look much brighter green and taste better without their skins.

Three ingredients is all you need

Three ingredients is all you need

Join our club

I’m regularly going to post a new recipe using biltong, so watch this space.

And if you want to order some yourself, I highly recommend the Chichester Biltong Company where you can choose the wetness and fattiness of your biltong too (it’s very personal, you know).

Go to http://www.biltongcompany.co.uk and enter the code EATINGCOVENT when you order.

Please also like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CookWithBiltong

 

 

Recipes: Tasty ideas using Haas avocados

I love avos. I was lucky enough to grow up with an enormous tree in the garden that produced such a splendid crop it was impossible to eat them all, even though I come from a large family. Needless to say, we were always popular in avocado season, turning up at friend’s houses with fruity gifts.

Avos are amazingly versatile, they go with so many other ingredients, so it’s a good idea to experiment and find your own favourite combination. Or they’re just as good eaten on their own, cut in half, remove the pip, season and eat with a teaspoon (one of my favourite snacks) – and are delicious for breakfast mashed up on toast.

There are several different types of avocados that come from different countries. These recipes are made using Peruvian Haas avos which are widely available in the UK from now until December. It’s time to try some new flavour combinations! And maybe think about a trip to Peru?

Avocado 3

Peruvian Hass avocado, pink grapefruit, pomegranate and prawn salad

Refreshing, colourful and healthy, this is a wonderful salad that makes the most of creamy Peruvian Hass avocados.

Serves 4

2 Peruvian Hass avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
2 handfuls of rocket
2 pink or red grapefruit
200g peeled cooked prawns
100g pomegranate seeds

Dressing

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Share the rocket between 4 serving plates.

Peel the grapefruit with a sharp, serrated knife to remove all the pith, then slice into
segments. Arrange on the salads. Slice the Peruvian Hass avocados on top, then share the
prawns between the portions. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the top.

For the dressing, whisk together the pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Season with salt
and pepper, then spoon over the salads.

Cook’s tip

Pomegranate molasses is sold at most major supermarkets and delicatessens. It hasa fruity, zesty flavour.

A beautifully colourful and summery salad

A beautifully colourful and summery salad

Savoury Peruvian Hass muffins

Perfect for breakfast or brunch and great for packed lunches or picnics too.

Makes 8 muffins

For the muffins
200g self-raising flour
4 eggs
125ml whole milk
80ml vegetable oil
50g sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
80g feta cheese, cut into 8 chunks

For the topping
3 Peruvian Hass avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
200g soft cheese
Squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan oven 180°C, Gas Mark 6. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper muffin cases.

In a large bowl, beat together the flour, eggs, milk and oil, using a hand whisk to give a smooth batter. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and season with
a pinch of salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, then push a feta cheese cube into each one, making sure the pieces are covered by the mixture.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Cool.

Meanwhile, mash or blend 2 Peruvian Hass avocados to make a smooth purée, then beat in the soft cheese and lemon or lime juice until smooth and creamy. Spoon on top of the muffins and serve at once, garnished with thin slices of avocado.

Cook’s tip: If you’re making the muffins for a packed lunch or picnic, put the topping into aseparate container for spreading on top later

Muffins

Cheesy muffins topped with creamy avocado yumminess

 

The Cook with Biltong Club: Biltong, watermelon and Manchego canapes

Summer in England keeps threatening to arrive…a bit of warmer air, a bit of sunshine and your hopes rise! They’re usually dashed pretty quickly by a whole day of rain and cold wind, but in that sniff of summer I start dreaming about  long, lazy afternoons in the garden.

Which brought me on to thinking about summer snacks using my favourite ingredient: biltong. Okay, there’s no actual cooking involved in this tasty dish but you do have to chop and assemble. My inspiration came from the traditional Italian starter of Parma ham and melon which is such a delicious combination. It sometimes comes with a bit of grated parmesan, too.

So I decided to mix a bit of South Africa with a bit of Spain (as I did for my biltong tortilla) for these delightful mouthfuls.  Simply cut some watermelon into small wedges (removing all pips), place a slice of biltong on top and a slice of manchego to finish off. Hold together with a toothpick. (My 2014 version of cheese and pineapple on a stick)

The combination of colours, textures and flavours is lovely! My tasters gave them a firm thumbs up too. Bring on the summer!

Lovely summer snacks that you guests will love

Lovely summer snacks that you guests will love

Join our club

I’m regularly going to post a new recipe using biltong, so watch this space.

And if you want to order some yourself, I highly recommend the Chichester Biltong Company where you can choose the wetness and fattiness of your biltong too (it’s very personal, you know).

Go to http://www.biltongcompany.co.uk and enter the code EATINGCOVENT when you order.

Please also like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CookWithBiltong