burnt toast

Tag: curry

Salad

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Let’s talk about salad. Nah just kidding, let’s talk about salad dressing. I do love me a good salad here and there, with crumbled bits of toasted stuff and juicy bursts of caramelised and vine-ripened vegetable shards literally jumping onto the fork with vitamin-spurred enthusiasm. Those salads are fantastic. But really, a salad is nothing without it’s dressing.  Sometimes, when I’m less in the mood for a frilly salad, I’ll go for something  simpler, dressed in a creamy outfit, something that’ll accompany my meal of carb on carb and turn it into something that resembles a balanced food pyramid if you squint. For once no chia seed and watermelon oil dressing kittens, but a dressing your grandma would make if she were Swiss, lived on top of a mountain and yodelled her chickens awake in the wee hours of the morning. It’s a dressing that would make most picky grandchildren lick their plates clean.

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Oma’s Salad Dressing

4 Tbsp mayonnaise (all my Australian friends – the good stuff ok? None of that sweet gunk)

4 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp white balsamic (replace with white wine vinegar, but add a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavours)

3 Tbsp milk

1 shallot, finely chopped

  • ½ tsp vegetable stock powder

½ tsp mild curry powder (more would make it too exotic for Oma, and we can’t have that)

a few grinds of black pepper

Whisk the ingredients together, adding the liquids slowly to the mayo so it becomes smooth. Done!

This will keep in the fridge for three or so days, but depending on the amount of salad you’re making, you might need all of it.

 

If you want a few ideas of how to use it, here are two:

One of the most frequently eaten salads here in Switzerland would be the “Nüsslersalat”, or lambs lettuce. It has a delicate, tear-shaped leaf and is known for its nutty flavour. If you can’t find it, replace with anything else that’s green that you’re in the mood for. All we do is finely dice a few hard-boiled eggs and toss them with the lettuce and the dressing. Serve immediately, because the greens don’t like to stand around for too long.

If you’re wanting to jazz up your carrot salad, thinly slice a head of fennel with half a kilo of carrots, throw some of the springy green fronds in, a few chopped parsley leaves if you have some, and mix with the dressing.

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Can I have some more of that?

Alright sweethearts, it’s curry time. But before I go off on a tangent about coconut milk and why I left the religion of vegetarianism, I would like to let you in on a little secret. I love curries. No, seriously. So much as that I would choose my last supper to be curry. Preferably thali – style, with about 20 different types. Yum. But while we’re all alive with plenty of years ahead of us, let’s continue with coconut milk. I have had my fair share of bland-tasting white goopy glue labelled “Organic Super Creamy Tasty Coconut Cream”. Bull. A few years of taste-testing have lead me to the hydrated coconut milk powder from Ayam. A definite winner. You can get it pretty much everywhere in the world now. Just in case you were wondering. Up to you what you want to use, just be careful. You’re halfway to an amazing curry, so don’t wreck it.

Now, to the veggie bit. I’ve been a meat-avoider for about 17 years of my life now. The reason for this being my parents, and my child-self feeling sorry for the going-to-be slaughtered animals. I guess things have changed. A bite of chicken kebab here, a spoonful of beef lasagne there. It actually started to taste good! Mind, I’m still at the beginning stage of things. The more processed, the more the likelihood that I like it. I know, I’m ashamed about that. One day, in the distant future, you’ll see me eating a rare steak. Promise. But until then, I’ll stick to dry chicken and burgers. And much much better things of course. Like this curry.

Red Thai Chicken Curry

Serves about 4

2/3 of the red curry paste I was talking about in the previous post

500 ml chicken stock, plus more

1 box coconut milk powder (3 packets)

1 ½ red capsicums, sliced thinly

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 large handful of green beans, topped and tailed, sliced at an angle into 3
(this is so they cook at the same rate as the rest of the vegetables)

½ lime, juice, plus wedges to serve

the reserved coriander leaves

Cooked jasmine or basmati rice

5 chicken thighs, cut into 3 cm pieces, seasoned lightly

The rest of the curry paste

1 Tbsp honey

Get a nice big saucepan and start frying off the curry paste. Once it looses that raw “bite” and starts smelling quite delicious, add the chicken stock , which you have previously mixed with the coconut milk powder. This just makes it easier to dissolve. Bring to the boil. Once all the coconutty lumps have gone, take it off the flame.

Time to make start cooking the rice. I’m quite confident you know how to do this.

While the rice is bubbling away, add your chicken pieces to a frypan with a glug of oil and fry till all sides are sealed, but not cooked through. Add the paste and the honey and stir till well coated. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until done.

Just before serving, Reheat the curry sauce, and add the sliced vegetables. Boil for a few minutes until cooked to your liking (still lightly crunchy, in my case). Add some seasoning and the lime juice.

Get 4 big soup bowls, fill with the amazing-smelling curry, top with a little mound of rice, the tender, spice-crusted chicken and a handful of fresh coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges.

Told you so.

Pasting it up

I have a soft spot for hand held blenders. Wack them in a pot of cooked vegetables, tadaa, you’ve got silky smooth soup. Give some chickpeas and some tahini a whirl and you get a delicious dip. Same with curry pastes. You may have discovered by know that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to ready made things. And I may sound like a broken record, but people, making your own curry paste takes literally as long as it does to open a jar of ready made stuff, and it will seriously taste ten times better. “Yeah but the ingredients list is sooo long!” So what. After having bought all your ingredients, you’ll have everything on hand for the next curry night. Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass sticks are quite happy to hang in the freezer. Cook this and you will see the world with different eyes. You can join my snob club if you want. We can even be friends.

Red Thai Curry Paste

½ onion, roughly chopped

½ red capsicum, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, halved

4 cm knob of ginger, grated

1 bunch fresh coriander, stems and roots, roughly chopped, leaves reserved

1-3 chillies, depending on heat, chopped

3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced

1 heaped Tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp sweet paprika

½ tsp salt, to taste

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

So basically, throw the lot into a jug-like device and give it a good workout with the blender, trying to get it as smooth as possible. Yep, that was it.

I’ll tell you what fun things I make with it next time.

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