Friday, February 19, 2010

When life gives you lemons..... crystalise them, preserve them or make a lovely lemon cake.   And lemonade of course.    No, no real lemons....simply a crappy metaphor as to how my week has been.

Lets not ponder over that and  instead, get straight to the grub!

Aromatic Thai Chicken 
 Serves approx.six:
1kg chicken pieces (I used thighs)
 1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Small teaspoon sugar
Half teaspoon black mustard seeds* (yellow/brown would do)
Teaspoon Thai curry paste
Pinch chilli powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce* (reduced fish stock would do)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped
250ml/8fl oz coconut milk
125ml/4fl oz water
*3 tablespoons roasted cashews, optional
Helen's crispy curried concoction!

Thai curry paste can be made however, in this case, I bought a small jar which I'll use for quick curry dishes with leftover chicken.   Keep it in the fridge, once opened.   The fish sauce, you should be able to buy at any supermarket or Chinese Food Outlet, but if you have difficulty, then buy a fish stock cube and dissolve it in a little water...not quite the same but it would do.

Combine onion, garlic, sugar, black mustard seeds, curry paste, chilli powder, fish sauce and lime/lemon juice in a glass bowl.   Add chicken, coat well and set aside to marinade for 30 minutes-1 hour.

Heat groundnut oil in a large frying pan and stir fry lemon grass for a few seconds.   Add the chicken (don't bother scraping the onion mix off, leave on what clings to the chicken) and brown on both sides, around 4 minutes each.   Add the remainder of the onion mix and stir.

Stir in the coconut milk *you can buy this canned but I buy 50g sachets which I then dissolve in hot water to make coconut milk* and the water but only stir in the water if you have room in the pan and you think it needs it.   When I made this, I only used some of the water.   Simmer the chicken for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender...I part placed a lid on (a well balanced plate as my frying pan doesn't have a lid!) and removed this for the last ten minutes so that the sauce could thicken up.
 Check seasoning; I found it needed rather a good pinch of sea salt and  lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with rice; I placed the remaining sauce into a serving dish to be spooned over once the dish was plated up.

Topped with Helen's Crispy Curried Concoction

To make crispy curried concoction, place around four tablespoons of flour into a bowl and mix with a scant teaspoon of ground coriander and cumin, a pinch of curry powder, freshly ground black pepper and some salt.   I also added a good big pinch of my 'Melange de France' mix of dried herbs which contain garlic, onions, celery, parsley, tarragon, thyme, chillies, paprika and so on and so forth so I'd add whatever spice takes your fancy but go easy; a pinch at a time.   A little paprika turns the mix reddish in colour and some extra chilli powder will make it a wee bit more powerful.

Mix with water, using a fork to beat them together.   You want a runny mixture but one which will coat the back of your fork easily.   Heat some oil, at least an inch...really quite hot....and do a drop test: drop a tiny amount of mixture into pan and if it bubbles and rises immediately, it's ready.   Using a spoon, scoop up a tablespoon of the batter and pour it into the hot fat, swirling it as you do.   You can't really go wrong with this, as long as your fat is hot enough.   If it sticks to the bottom, don't worry, use a fat proof large slotted spoon to stir the batter.   Once it goes golden brown, scoop out the large and small crispy pieces and place on kitchen towel.   Sprinkle with a little salt.   Add more mix until all used.

Sprinkle over top of dish.   This, I used instead of the cashews and instead of serving with spiced bread.   It's really crispy and tasty but you don't need too much of it, it's just to add that other dimension and a bit of crispiness.  

I enjoyed this dish but I think it could have done with a kick; I think next time, I may add some chillies; I'd use one red and place a cut down the middle, placing it in the sauce before the 30 minute simmering.   I'd remove the chilli before serving.  

Chocolate Loaf Cake Recipe
By popular demand, here it is; I have to 'fess up here and tell you that, although I enjoyed this cake loaf, it didn't exactly work out.   The yeast granules I'd used were from a previously opened sachet and it had died, i.e. the yeast didn't work.   Let that be a lesson to me; opened sachets must be used within a few days.   That being said, we still ate it and thoroughly enjoyed it yes, Helen, add more fuel to the Scottish stereotype image of being tight...hey, I write a blog about it, I'm hiding nothing! imagine if it had actually risen properly.   I shall definitely make again but if you try it out, please let me know what you thought.

How my cake turned out....

 How it looked in the Women's Institute Bread Cookbook...
Hmmmm.....but it tasted lovely just the same.

225g/8oz strong white bread flour
25g/1oz caster sugar (fine sugar, not granulated)
Half teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fast action dried yeast...don't make my mistake!
50g/2oz dried and sweetened sour cherries
25g/1oz dessicated coconut
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 medium egg, beaten
50g/2oz creamed coconut (remember those sachets I was talking about?) dissolved in 125ml/4 fl oz boiling water and cooled to hand temperature
50g/2oz good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Yet another beaten egg, to glaze

To decorate:
25g/1oz dark chocolate, melted
Sifted icing sugar, for dusting, ir in my case, coating....

Combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, cherries, dessicated coconut and orange zest in a mixing bowl.   Make a well in the centre and plop in the egg and dissolved creamed coconut.   Mix to a soft dough.

Turn out onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth; it won't be as smooth as a plain loaf, obviously, what with all the other ingredients.   Don't worry if it looks messy, just keep pressing down with the heel of your hand, and turning.   It will eventually come together in a lovely, a good way....loaf like shape.   Place into a bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place.   This is when my cake didn't double in size but it should definitely rise a little.   Around 1 hour should do it.

Put oven on to Gas Mark 6/200C/400F.

Punch the air out lightly and then mix in the chocolate, kneading it until incorporated.   Leave to relax for 10 minutes before dividing the dough into two equal strands.Join at one end and simply twist around each other.   Place on a greased baking tray, glaze with beaten egg and leave to prove once again, for approx. 15 minutes.   Bake for 20-25 minutes.   Cool on a wire rack and then drizzle the chocolate over the top and dust thickly not THAT thickly, Helen...!?...with icing sugar.

Chicken Goujons recipe to follow.....



Melissa B. said...

I DEFINITELY will be trying these! Hey, where ya been? Missed ya!

Caution Flag said...

Goodness! You've been hard at work. The chocolate cake looks especially delicious :)

Helen McGinn said...

Melissa, crappy week....but all is ok; thanks for asking, hon.

Caution flag, hi! It is one tasty bread cake, even if you get it wrong.... ;O)

Caroline said...

Your chocolate loaf cake turned out beautifully!! Everything looks tasty (as usual!) = )

Virginia Mom said...

Sorry you had a crappy week... and I hadn't ever really thought about the Scottish being known as "tight"- but maybe I get my "I just can't rationalize spending money on that" attitude from one of my distant Scottish grandmothers!
Question about the chocolate cherry cake- I'm trying to figure what similar ingredient we have over here to the cream coconut you used. We have Creme de Coconut that comes in a can and it is VERY sweet, creamy coconut milk (most often used in Pina Coladas and Coconut Cakes) Does your cream coconut add sweetness and slight thickening? Hmm... I'm gonna have to figure this one out because I really want to make that cake!!! :)

McVal said...

Oh my! That all looks so wonderful! I've got to try that chocolate loaf this weekend if I can figure out the measurements...
My husband is a laird by the way! Well - for Valentine's Day one year, I purchased a deed to a 1 square foot plot in Northern Scotland... Someday when we can afford it, we want to visit Scotland and check out our land! Do you think they'll let us build on it?
Thanks for the follow and the recipes!

mise said...

Bless your chocolate loaf honesty! I use the blocks of creamed coconut - very cheap, they last for ages in the fridge, and, most of all, you're not adding liquid to a dish when you add this, so you can use more wine instead.

Penny said...

Love your blog and your recipes look amazing. I had a week like yours as well and am quite glad it's almost over! It's comforting to know that there is someone else, even far away, that knows just how I feel! Hope your weekend is lovely!

Protege said...

What an I say? This post puts my cans of beans to shame. It puts me to shame. My mom always wanted me to learn how to cook, but I never did. So now I can only enjoy blogs like yours.;) THANKS heaven for blogs like yours.;)
Have a lovely weekend dear Helen,

Beth said...

Hey girl,
Thanks for posting the recipes! It all looks so good!

Have a nice weekend.



Janice said...

What a shame about the yeast. In these recessionary times, the 'Scottish stereotype' is positively complimentary! Hope you have a good weekend and a better week next week.

mimbles said...

That Thai chicken sounds really good, I'm already thinking of a few tweaks I might make to the recipe. I need new chicken recipes, we tend to eat a fair bit of chicken because it's the easy option for the kids, my daughter especially, but I get so bored eating the same few casseroles/curries over and over.

I hope your weekend is fabulous and that the only lemons in your future are real ones.

aladdinsane12 said...

i'm totally making that thai chicken sometime soon! i LOVE me some thai!! but i will NOT be adding chillies- spicy=bad!

Unknown Mami said...

How is it that you are not as big as a house?

gaelikaa said...

Sorry you had a bad week, Helen. Your still writing lovely blog posts. Have you ever pickled lemons? Lemon pickle is really good.

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Laura said...

Being in early stages of my second pregnancy...I find I am feeling nauseous at the sight of all sweets. this makes me so sad because I have so enjoyed reading through all your recipes and picking out ones to try. Now I had to scroll through quickly when you were showing/discussing your lovely chocolate bread. sigh.
I am going to try that thai chicken! We just raided the local asian market, so I have almost all of those ingredients on hand!
Thanks for the great recipes! I am looking forward to the Helen's Crunchies!

koralee said...

I pick the cake today...yummmmy..why do you do this to me???? Hope your week is off to a great start! xoxoxo

mimbles said...

Thanks for the inspiration Helen, dinner tonight at our place was scrumptious! :-)

Kellie Collis said...

Delicious food !

Melissa B. said...

PS: Wanted to let you know I'm hosting the Academy Awards of Bloggy Bling today, and you're a recipient! Have a lovely...

LisaDay said...

It's me again. I wanted to let you know there is an award waiting for you on my blog.