Kebabs – this whole area of food does get a bad wrap (pardon the pun) out there. It associated with late night out – dirty stop out kind of food. But this little dish is misunderstood – it is more than just a “beer sponge” after the end of a lively night. It has the potential to be so much better that. So today to pay some respect to the humble meal I made my own version, using strips of lamb marinated in Shawarma spices and griddled at a high heat to add a “bbq” feel to the meat. Then for the toppings I mixed some Harrisa into yogurt, sliced tomato, onion, cucumber, parsley, dill, basil, coriander – accompanied with the obligatory green chilli and gherkin. Then had two dips to dunk the morsels in: Hummos and aubergine.
Another variation if you not a big meat eater is to replace the lamb with boiled eggs instead – this was amazing! Or if you are like me and really greedy have the boiled eggs with lamb – much more taster than the 3am Friday night on way home version 🙂
Vietnamese Pancakes (Bahn Xeo)- Ultimate Guilty Pleasure, so many good things placed onto a plate to be devoured in a split second. I decided to make a traditional one with pork and prawns. The pancake recipe has similar measurements and technique to a usual pancake batter but instead of milk its coconut milk, instead of flour (wheat) its rice flour, then adding turmeric powder adds to its colour as well as flavour. A crispy thin pancake topped with stir fried pork and veggies. The secret I found out from a Vietnamese buddy is to cook the meat in lard/fat – this imparts more flavour into the dish – don’t need a lot of it mind you and anyway its rare to have these everyday so embrace cooking in fat just for this dish alone if your a regretful eater. This dish is not to be eaten faint heartedly – it should be attacked and drenched in it sweet/sour spicy sauce – Nuoc Cham. The sauce is the champion of the dish and raises the flavour bar that much higher. It was simple enough: sugar, warm water, lime juice, chopped chilli, fish sauce and garlic – the ratios are to your taste. What are you waiting for – get your pancake pan out and give this a whirl!
So in keeping with the Vietnamese obsession lately – went for the traditional much loved Pho. A delicious beef based broth, with rice noddles and all the trimmings. This recipe definitely champions the art of slow cooking and will test you patience as while the broth is cooking the smell wafting from the pot is such a tease! You can make Pho as good or as naughty as you want – its a great meal for when you are feel a bit low and need a warm hug but from the inside – highly recommended!
Went to a Vietnamese restaurant recently and tried their Beef Stew. Often I go to a Vietnamese restaurant and I already know what I will be having without having to look at the menu. This order usually consists of Vietnamese Pancake and/or summer rolls to start, then main would be Pho usually beef. But this time I decided to go off piste and tried “Bo Kho” a Vietnamese concoction of shin of beef, star anise and five spice stew and it was amazing – I have greatly abbreviated the ingredients but give me a shout and more than happy to drop the recipe on here! I left pining over that dish for days afterwards and scrawled the internet for a recipe – and here it is home made Bo Kho leave all your pre conceptions of what a stew should taste like this is a different flavour combo altogether. The addition of star anise and five spice gives it that oriental flavour and using shin of beef made the stew deliciously unctuous. Serve with rice or with a warm crispy on the outside but fluffy in the middle baguette to soak up all the juices as that gravy is the real hero of this dish!
I love pistachio’s and am quick to jump up and try any recipe that calls for it. This time I made a pistachio and hazelnut flour less cake. The hazelnut grounded into a fine powder to take the roll of the usual flour requirement for cake. I added a dash of rose water to the whipped cream to give it a almost middle eastern feel. This was great and if i was served it with out knowing there wasn’t any flour in it I would have been none the wiser.Perfect for naughty but nice treat with a lot less guilt afterwards!
Gnocchi – I love Gnocchi but I always found the recipe instructions quite daunting and the risk of it being to “doughy” or “watery” or “rubbery” are great. I tried it again the other night and this time it worked out. Not to doughy, not to watery and not rubbery at all. Success!
I dressed it up with a beefy tomato sauce similar to a basic ragu and it was a nice change to the usual spag bol. I would recommend you try making your own Gnocchi as eating freshly made Gnocchi is so much better – even on its own slathered in butter….ahhh bliss!
I recently got the Polpo Cookbook – if you are ever in London definitely make visiting Polpo on your food list agenda – venetian tapa’s of sorts. The cookbook had various meatball recipes, from lamb with pistachio, pork & fennel or the classic beef and pork. First to tick off on the list was Lamb and Pistachio with basic tomato sauce and pasta. Next up was classic beef and pork with puree celeriac….
Then went a bit off piste and found a Prussian recipe called Königsberger klopse …. which is pork or veal meatballs mixed with the usual meatball ingredients with the addition of anchovies and worcestershire sauce and the sauce was a sour cream base flavored with parsley and capers. Served with boiled potatoes in keeping with German tradition.
I am now pretty much meat-balled out – well at least for the next couple of weeks – Each were great and difficult to chose my most favorite …so as this is the case the perfect meatball recipe is yet to be determined…watch this space!