A good time was had by all

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As followers of my blog know, I ran my first ever pop up dinner on Saturday night, at the beautiful workshop venue Les Soeurs Anglaises in the Dordogne. Armed with fresh herbs, fiery chillies and a vat of fish sauce (note to self – make sure you have the lid on tight before transporting in the car!) and aided by the brilliant Sue Holland in the kitchen; her husband Ian, front of house and my Ian, head waiter (and photographer extraordinaire) we got through the evening with no mishaps or food disasters.

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Guests arrived promptly at 7pm and were seated in good time by 7.30pm. The amuse bouche – an explosion of Thai flavours – Betel leaves, home smoked trout, garlic, chilli paste, nam jim, herbs and salmon roe was followed by a Thai green curry soup, with a choice of either prawn, chicken or vegetarian. The main course for meat eaters was one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, Caramel pork belly and was served with steamed jasmine rice and a tangy Green papaya salad that balanced the sweet richness of the pork. Vegetarians didn’t miss out on big flavours as they enjoyed Puffed tofu with chilli tamarind sauce, the rice and papaya salad.

From the convivial hum emanating from the dining room it seemed everyone was happy and the clean plates arriving back to the kitchen confirmed this. With the meal two thirds complete, Sue and I were able to catch our breath before adding the finishing touches to the dessert – Roasted tamarind pineapple with coconut sorbet and coconut caramel brittle.

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The evening drew to a close with the coffee or jasmine tea and diners left satisfied and full. The pop team had survived the night and we are all looking forward to hosting our next pop up – sometime in late April or early May.

I would like to thank my co-workers and of course Katie and Mike, owners of Les Soeurs Anglaises, for not only allowing us to use their venue but for gathering friends and family and spreading the word.

 

 

Exciting news…….my first pop up dinner

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I am so excited to be co-hosting my first ever pop up dinner at the beautiful Les Soeurs Anglaises in The Dordogne, SW France. I am also thrilled to be joined by fellow chef, artist, blogger and dear friend Sue Holland. Sue and her husband Ian, originally from Australia, co-owned and ran the wonderful seafood restaurant Customs House, in Baltimore, Co.Cork. Ireland. for 10 years before moving to France. Sue cooked whilst Ian was front of house and together they held the coveted Bib Gourmand in The Michelin Guide, from 2000 to 2006 as well as Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2004, Georgina Campbell’s Guide. In France they ran ” La Vielle Poste” Restaurant, Champagnolles, Charente Maritime from 2009 – 2011. Sue now spends her time cooking for various events, travel and posting on her great blog. https://customshouse.wordpress.com/

I am so looking forward to this new experience and with Sue alongside me I am super confident that the evening will be a huge success. Of course much of the ambience of the evening will be down to our beautiful location.

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Katie Armitage and her Husband Mike will welcome you to their stunning home and event venue, where they hold workshops throughout the summer months in the beautiful converted barn.

Tickets are limited and it is a first come first served event. so anyone in the area of SW France on 10th march, get in touch. I am going to be holding more of these dinners, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

Recipe of the week……………duck salad

Duck Salad

Sesame and soy duck fillets and green papaya salad

Serves: 4

Green papaya is a used extensively in Thai and South East Asian cooking where it is traditionally served as a refreshing salad. The slightly tart quality of the fruit absorbs the sweet salty dressing perfectly, a perfect foil to the richly flavoued duck.

4 x 200 g duck breast fillets

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs fish sauce

2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

750 g green papaya, peeled, halved and  seeded

2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced

1/2 bunch each fresh Thai basil, coriander and mint

125 g grape cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tbs dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped

dressing

3 tbs fish sauce

3 tbs caster sugar

2 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice

2 small red chillies, thinly sliced and seeded if wished

sea salt

Thai crispy fried shallots, to garnish

Marinate the duck. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Score the skin of each duck breast several times with a sharp knife, add to the marinade, cover with cling wrap and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200c. Remove the duck from the marinade and rub dry with kitchen paper, sprinkle the skin with sea salt. Heat a heavy based ovenproof frying pan and sear the duck skin down form 1 minute until golden. Turn the duck breast oven, transfer to the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the papaya and cut into long thin strips or julienne. Place in a bowl and add the cucumber, herbs and cherry tomatoes. Whisk together the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice until the sugar is dissolved and stir in the chillies.

Thinly slice the duck breast and add to the salad with the dressing. Toss well, divide between plates and serve scattered with the peanuts and the fried shallots.

Asian noodles cook club

The first of my monthly Cook Club courses took place last week with great success. The concept of cook club is to offer people who live locally in SW France the chance to join me for a 4 hour cooking session and learn to cook dishes from around the world and craft their culinary skills with courses on all food subjects. Living here in France is great but occasionally we all yearn for something else and so we began with Asian noodles.

On the menu this week were Salmon and spring onion gyoza, Steamed scallop and chive dumplings, Green papaya, crispy pork and vermicelli noodle salad and a classic Prawn pad Thai (stir-fried noodles).We began by filling the gyoza wrappers and dumpling wrappers and made up their delicious but totally different sauces. Next came the green papaya salad which we left to one side, ready to assemble just before lunch, whilst we finished off prepping up the Pad Thai. After a full-on morning of cooking and learning about noodles we sat down together to enjoy the fruits of our labours……….. delicious!

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Steamed scallop and bean shoot dumplings

Serves: 2

125g shelled scallops (corals removed)

25g bamboo shoots, drained and chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic chives/or chives

1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoons oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

12-16 wonton wrappers

a little sunflower oil, for cooking

shredded spring onions, to garnish

Trim the scallops, cutting away the grey muscle attached at one side and cut into small dice. Place in a bowl with the bean shoots, garlic, chives, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil and stir well.

Lay the wrappers flat on a board and place a teaspoon of the scallop mixture in the center. Brush around the edges with a little water and draw the sides up and around the filling pressing together to seal. Transfer each one to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Pop the base of each dumpling in a dish of oil and transfer to a medium-sized bamboo steamer. Cover and steam over a pan of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes until firm and cooked through. Serve with the dressing, garnished with shredded spring onions.

Szechuan chilli dressing

Makes: 50ml

50ml sunflower oil

1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes

1 tablespoons light soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon black vinegar

1 teaspoons caster sugar

¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepper

Heat the oil in a small saucepan until it just starts to shimmer, remove from the heat and stir in the chilli flakes. Set aside for 30 minutes and then strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients and serve as required.

If you are making ahead of time omit the pepper, adding it just before serving


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Salmon and spring onion gyoza

Serves: 2

125 g skinless salmon fillet, boned

1 spring onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon Mirin

1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

10-12 gyoza wrappers

1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil

pinch salt

black sesame seeds

Cut the salmon fillet into small dice and place in a bowl. Add the spring onions, Mirin and soy sauce and stir well to combine.

Using 1 wrapper at a time, lay flat on a clean board and place a spoonful of the salmon mixture on one half of each wrapper. Dampen the edges with water, fold in half and turn edges over, pressing together well to seal.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the gyoza on one side until really browned. Add 100ml water and simmer, partially covered for 3 minutes until the water is evaporated. Fry for a further 1 minutes until crisp. Transfer to serving dishes and drizzle over the dipping sauce.

Noodle dipping sauce

Makes: 150 ml

100 ml dashi stock

11/2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce

11/2 tablespoons Mirin

1/4 teaspoon caster sugar

Combine the dipping sauce ingredients together and chill until required. This will keep indefinitely in a screw top jar in the fridge.


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Green papaya and crispy panchetta salad

Serves: 4

150 g dried rice vermicelli noodles

150 g pancetta, diced

150 g green papaya, peeled, halved and seeded

1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

a good handful fresh mint, coriander and Thai basil

125g grape cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons palm sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced and seeded if wished

4 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped

1 tablespoon roasted rice powder

crispy fried shallots, to serve

Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Soak for 20 minutes until just tender. Drain and then dry the noodles on a clean tea towel and place in a large bowl.

Dry fry the panchetta in a small frying pan over high heat until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Thinly slice the papaya and cut into long thin strips or julienne. Add to the noodles with the cucumber, herbs, cherry tomatoes and panchetta.

Whisk together the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the salad, toss well and divide between plates. Top with the peanuts and powdered rice. Serve with crispy fried shallots.


Prawn Pad Thai

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Serves: 1

90g dried rice stick noodles

6-8 medium raw prawns, peeled and de-veined

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoons grated palm sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon tamarind water

4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

125 g firm tofu, diced

2 red shallots

2 garlic cloves or 1 small bunch garlic chives

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon dried shrimps (see Store Cupboard ID pages)

a pinch cayenne pepper

125 g bean sprouts, trimmed plus extra to serve

Garnishes

crushed peanuts,

lime wedges, to serve

coriander/garlic chives

cayenne pepper

Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes stirring to ensure they separate. Drain well. Prepare the prawns. Shell and remove the black vein from the back, wash and pat dry.

Place the fish sauce, palm sugar, white sugar and tamarind water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok, add the tofu to the pan and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until crispy. Remove from the pan.

Add the prawns (with a little extra oil, if needed) and stir-fry for 2 minutes until pink, remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and fry over a medium heat for 30 seconds and pour in the beaten egg. Lower the heat and cook, stirring gently for 10 seconds until starting to set.

Return the tofu to the pan along with the cooked prawns, dried shrimp and noodles and stir-fry over a high heat until the noodles start top brown.

Add the sauce and a pinch of cayenne stirring constantly, until everything is heated through. Stir through the half beansprouts.

Transfer to a platter and sprinkle over the remaining beansprouts, peanuts, coriander and cayenne pepper and serve with lime wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not over ’til it’s over

Although Halloween is over for another year, I still have tons of homegrown pumpkins to use up so I decided it was time for curry night in our house. This is a Thai inspired curry with coconut milk added at the end to intensify the flavour and add a layer of richness to the dish, ideal for this time of year as the evenings start to cool down. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Coriander beef, pumpkin and chilli curry

Beef and Pumpkin curry 1

Serves: 4

1 kg cubed beef steak

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp salt

4 long green chillies, chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

3 cm cube root ginger, pealed

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

4 tomatoes, chopped

2 tbs tomato puree

1 bunch fresh coriander

4 tbs sunflower oil

500 g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed

125 ml coconut milk, plus extra to drizzle

turmeric rice and lime pickle, to serve

Place the beef in a bowl and add the ground coriander, black pepper and half the salt, stir well to coat meat and set aside until required.

Place the chillies, onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree and all but a few sprigs of the coriander, roughly chopped, in a blender with 1 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan fry the beef in batches in a flameproof casserole until browned, removing with a slotted spoon. Add a little extra oil to the pan if needed and add the paste, fry briefly until fragrant, then return the beef to the pan.

Bring to the boil, cover a simmer over a very low heat for 11/2  hours. Add the pumpkin to the pan, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes until the beef  is tender and the pumpkin mushy. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently for a few minutes until thickened.

Garnish the curry with the remaining coriander sprigs, drizzle over a little extra coconut milk and serve with turmeric rice and lime pickle.

Beef and Pumpkin curry 2