Thursday, June 14, 2012

cold noodle and tomato salad for the weekend

This here little bowl of lip smacking fun; an utter summer jumble of crunchy textures and fresh, bright flavours rather than a hot pot of msg enhanced amusement might be a box tick should the weather be right, and the time does much the same this weekend. That is unless someone else is bringing this together for you, and you're in exotic climes already. Cold noodles sadly don't get nearly the attention they deserve, more often than not due to weak seasoning. What's not to disagree with big punchy hits of acid, salt and sugar?

My eyes are shut, I'm in Chiang Mai, that's my fourth Tiger right there, I can hear the tac tac of pestle to mortar bringing my salad together, I'm in dreamland.

Serves 4

60g rice noodles
a large handful sprouted seeds
1 medium hot red chilli
1 red or orange pepper
 ½ cucumber
100g peas , shelled weight
125g cherry tomatoes
100g salted, roasted cashews
a small bunch coriander
4 sprigs mint

For the dressing:
3 tblsp lime juice
3 tblsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp caster sugar 

Put the noodles into a heatproof bowl then pour boiling water from the kettle over them and leave for 2 minutes (or whatever it says on the packet). Drain the noodles and let them cool in a colander under cold running water. Drain thoroughly.

Rinse the sprouted seeds under cold running water, drain them, then tip into a mixing bowl. Finely chop the chilli and thinly slice the pepper then add them to the sprouted seeds. Peel, core and cut the cucumber into small dice, then add to the seeds with the raw peas. 

Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the salted cashews and roughly chopped coriander and mint leaves, gently tossing the ingredients together with the drained noodles.

Make the dressing: mix together the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Drain the noodles and add them to the other ingredients, then toss them with the dressing. Chill for a good half-hour before serving with the coldest beer your teeth can cope with.

potted crab or instant noodles?

When the sun shines, so does the desire to be close to the water, and by beautiful default closer and fresher to some of our most wonderful food supplies. This is a great prepare-ahead dish that you can simply take out of the fridge half an hour before serving. If preparing in advance, make sure the crab meat is completely covered with the butter mixture, and keep the pots well chilled for up to two days. Fancy it up with a bit of sliced avocado, green apple, some green leaves and a rip of bread and all is good in the world.

If this all sounds too perfect and the beach is either too far away or your needs to be beside the seaside isn't great enough then a 3.30am cup of instant noodles with extra shio konbu thrown is easily an acceptable substitution. Close your eyes and hold a seashell to your ear, everything will be just all right again.

Serves 4 on a sunny day  

2 dressed crab (or 300g white and brown crab meat)
1 banana shallot (or 2 regular ones), peeled and finely chopped
4 tblsp sherry
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
175g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Squeeze of lemon juice, according to taste
Handful of chives, finely chopped
Run your fingers through the crab meat to pick out any remaining bits of shell and cartilage. Wrap with cling film and chill.
Put the shallot, sherry, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a small saucepan.

Season well. Bring to the boil and let it bubble vigorously for about 2 minutes until the liquid has reduced to half.

Turn the heat to low and gradually whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time. Leave it to simmer very gently for a few minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let the flavours infuse as the butter cools.

Pour the butter mixture into a fine sieve set over a measuring jug and press down to extract the juice from the shallots. Discard the solids.

Mix the crab meat with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into four individual pots of some description, each about 6cm wide. Place the pots on a tray and pour the butter mixture over the crab meat to cover. Cover them with a large piece of cling film and chill for about 2-3 hours until set.

Remove the potted crab from the fridge 30 minutes before serving with anything from the suggestions above in addition to buttered brown toasts, lemon wedges, chopped chives and a large glass of something very cold.

Those noodles on the other hand need nothing more than a generous imagination, 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Post nightshift breakfast blt

Serves 1 seriously tired chef  

You can vary the ingredients of this sandwich to taste. For example, you could add sliced buffalo mozzarella, sliced avocado or roasted and peeled red pepper quarters, all the above quite depending on your mood. Alas and quite frankly, after pulling a 16 hour overnight shift in the kitchen, you're lucky the bacon is even cooked.

Tabasco to taste (optional)
6 slices unsmoked back bacon
2 soft floury rolls
Butter or mayonnaise
2 fat ripe tomatoes, sliced
A handful of baby gem leaves

Preheat a nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Trim the bacon of excess fat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 tblsp oil, followed by as much bacon as you can fit in the pan. Fry briskly for about 2 minutes on each side or until lightly coloured and beginning to turn crispy. The cooking time will vary according to the thickness of the bacon. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven while you continue to cook the remaining bacon with a further tablespoon of oil. 

Lightly spread the bottom half of each roll with butter or mayonnaise and cover with the sliced and seasoned tomatoes, then 3 slices of bacon followed by the gem leaves. A hit of tabasco at this stage isn't necessarily a bad thing by the way, as is a twist of black pepper.

Serve immediately, with plenty of paper napkins and an appropriate beverage for the time of day.