Chicken and peanut Panang curry

peanuts, lime, onion, cucumberThe complete chicken cookbook, 256pp.
edited by Jane Price
Bay Books, Sydney, 2003
Cooking on page 232

This is the third or fourth recipe from Jane Price that I have featured on the blog. I bought this book years ago to keep at the beach house. It’s loaded with easy to make chicken recipes and good for inspiration.

Chapters cover soups, snacks, starters, salads, stir-fries, roasts, casseroles, curries, pasta, rice, marinades and more.

I could have cooked from pages 32 or 132, but I was keen to use my kaffir lime leaves. It is the only edible plant we have growing at the beach.

Wonder why I haven’t included a pic of the cookbook cover? Years ago, we went out and I left the cookbook on the floor at the beach house. One or both dogs ate the cover. I suspect the smaller one. He liked to chew.

Chicken and peanut Panang curry

Chicken and peanut Panang curry

1 tablespoon oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1–2 tablespoons Panang curry paste
1 cup (250 ml/4 fl oz) coconut milk
500 g (1 lb) chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
4 kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup (60 g/2 fl oz) coconut cream
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
1/2 cup (80 g/2 3/4 oz) roasted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup (15 g/1/2 oz) Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup (80 g/2 3/4 oz) chopped fresh pineapple
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
chilli sauce, to serve

curry ingredientsMethod
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the onion and curry paste to the wok and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken and kaffir lime leaves to the wok, then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken with a wire mesh strainer or slotted spoon. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, or until it is reduced and quite thick.

Return the chicken to the wok. Add the coconut cream, fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the peanuts, basil and pineapple. Serve with the cucumber on the side, some chilli sauce, as well as steamed rice. Serves 4.

sliced cucumbersHow it played out
Made a special trip to the Batemans Bay to buy Panang curry paste and Thai basil. The paste was easy enough to find, but the basil eluded me. I wasn’t all that surprised because Asian herbs aren’t always available in small beach communities. The only reason I had kaffir lime leaves was because I grow them at the beach house.

I followed the method, using almost 3 tablespoons of the curry paste and ordinary basil. I skipped the pineapple. It just doesn’t work for me in savoury dishes.

The recipe was super easy to make and the cooking times were perfect. Served with steamed rice and two salads—one with mango and the other with pear, rocket (arugula), walnuts and blue cheese.

Friend and neighbour, Lyn, joined us for dinner. The main pic isn’t very flattering, but we thoroughly enjoyed the curry, which was mild heat-wise, yet full of flavour. In fact, the flavours from all the dishes came together beautifully. The peanuts gave a wonderful crunch and we didn’t miss the pineapple.

Chicken and peanut Panang curry

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Potato cakes

Potato cakesLove your leftovers: recipes for the resourceful cook, 336pp.
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2015
Cooking on page 132–33

Okay, I’ll confess. I love leftovers. After I moved away from home, I often returned to visit (don’t all kids?). About a minute after I walked in the door, my mother would say something like ‘there’s leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge’. I was in heaven.

So when I saw this book on offer for $5 at a going-out-of-business sale, I had to check out page 32, which had no recipe, and then 132. The required leftovers were mashed potatoes. I bought it.

Potato cake

Potato cakes

300–500g mashed potatoes or well-crushed roast potatoes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1–2 tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1–2 tablespoons whole milk
rapeseed or sunflower oil, for frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, mix together the potatoes, egg, flour and milk—the amount of milk you should add will depend on the amount of mash. It needs to be a fairly thick dough, so you may not need any milk at all, especially if the mash is quite soft to start with.

Potato cake mixture Frying potato cakesSeason the mixture well with salt and pepper and stir in any extra ingredients that you would like to add (see tips and swaps, below).

Using lightly floured hands, form the mixture into potato cakes, about 2cm thick and 7cm in diameter.

You’ll need to cook the potato cakes in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Heat a thin film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add 3 or 4 cakes and fry for 3–5 minutes each side, until crisp and golden brown.

Drain the potato cakes on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

Delicious with bacon and indeed any—or all—of your favourite breakfast components.

Tips and swaps
Add any of the following to the potato mix for extra flavour:
Herbs, such as chopped parsley, chives, soft thyme, lovage or chervil.
Sliced spring onions, finely diced shallots, or sautéed chopped onions and/or leeks.
A little finely chopped garlic.
Good pinch of English mustard powder.
Handful of grated cheese.
Some crumbled leftover cooked bacon, or even sausage, haggis or black pudding.
Or try a few bits of shredded ham.

Love your leftovers cookbookHow it played out
It pays to read the instructions before you start tossing in ingredients. The recipe clearly states that you might not need any milk. I’d already added it to 500 grams of mash when I realised that the dough was going to be on the runny side.

Never mind, I pressed on and added a lot of fresh herbs to the mix. I couldn’t really hand shape the cakes, so just scooped them into a large frying pan. It made three potato cakes that I served with green beans and chicken piccata.

I love potatoes in all forms and these did not disappoint. I think I’ll regularly make extra mash so I have some to do these cakes. I’ll think twice before I add milk, but I’ll be sure to add even more of items suggested in the tips and swaps. Let me know if you try them.

We’ve encountered a lot of potatoes on our travels. Here’s a post that shows a new variety of potato we saw in the Amazon.

Potato cake

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Broccoli and stilton soup

Leek, potato, broccoliEveryday gourmet: family feast, 202pp.
by Justine Schofield
CMMA Digital and Print, Rozelle NSW, 2014
Cooking on page 32

This magazine is a spin-off from the popular Australian cooking show, Everyday Gourmet, hosted by Justine Schofield.

In the introduction, Schofield says the 90-plus recipes in the magazine have been handpicked by the team that delivers the show. They had a lot to choose from. The show is in its ninth season and has aired 700 episodes.

broccoli and stilton soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

350g broccoli florets
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 small potato, diced
600ml chicken stock
300ml milk
3 tbsp double cream
115g stilton cheese, rind removed, crumbled
salt and ground black pepper

Discard any tough stems from the broccoli florets. Set aside two small florets for the garnish.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5–8 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

Stilton and stock Stilton and broccoli soup

Add the broccoli and potato and pour in the hot stock. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Leave the soup to cool slightly, then ladle it into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve back into the rinsed-out pan.

Add the milk and cream, season to taste with salt and pepper and reheat gently. When the soup is hot, stir in the cheese until it just melts, then remove the pan from the heat. Do not let it boil.

Meanwhile, blanch the reserved broccoli florets in lightly salted boiling water for 1–2 minutes, then drain and cut them vertically into thin slices.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with the sliced broccoli florets and a generous grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Broccoli and stilton soupHow it played out
Yesterday I bought a lovely stilton cheese that was on special (half price) at the market. It weighed just over 90 grams (3 ounces) so I scaled the most of the recipe back a bit. As a guide, I used 300g of broccoli, a small onion, a small leek, half of a larger potato, 500ml of chicken stock, 250ml of milk and 2 1/2 tablespoons of double cream.

I followed the instructions as written, although I puréed the soup with a stick blender.

These ingredients go great together. They make a delicious soup that reminds me of a funny story.

Everyday Gourmet magazineYears ago and on a Saturday morning, I made an almost identical soup. Back then, we had a Finnish exchange student living with us. Just before lunch, Eemeli asked if it was okay to have some soup. I said yes. I heard him ladle it up and heat a bowlful in the microwave. It suddenly dawned on me that a teenager might not like broccoli and stilton soup.

‘Eemeli, did you taste that before you heated it up?’ I asked. ‘Oh yes,’ he said, ‘I had some yesterday after school.’ Hang on. I made the broccoli and stilton soup today.

So I had to tell Eemeli that he was eating homemade dog food. I told him it was made with good ingredients—meat, vegetables and barley—but without seasoning. So he added some salt and pepper, and ate it. The dog wasn’t all that happy about sharing his ‘recipe’.

Let me know if you want the dog food recipe.

Student and dog

Eemeli and Aggie discuss food ownership


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Porridge: mum’s version

Pepitas and coconut flakesMr and Mrs Wilkinson’s how it is at home: a cookbook for every family, 256pp.
by Matt Wilkinson and Sharlee Gibb
Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2017
Cooking on page 32

This is the second time I have made a page-32 recipe from a Matt Wilkinson cookbook. The first was for delicious baked beetroot. That book and recipe were published seven years ago, but I wrote about them earlier this year.

Today’s recipe is from his wife, Sharlee Gibb. His recipe for porridge is on page 33, and he confesses that their children prefer mum’s recipe. Here goes.

Porridge with fruit

Porridge: mum’s version

100 g (3 1/2 oz/1 cup) rolled (porridge) oats
pinch of salt flakes
25 g (1 oz) sultanas (golden raisins)
1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon coconut flakes
1 banana, peeled and thinly sliced
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) milk (whatever type you prefer)
honey, to serve (optional)

Oats and sultanasMethod
Add the oats, 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water and salt to a small saucepan over a medium–low heat and cook for 7–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are just starting to turn creamy. Stir through the sultanas, adding a splash of water from the kettle if the porridge starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, then remove from the heat and spoon into bowls.

To serve, sprinkle over the pepitas and coconut flakes, top with the banana slices and pour over your choice of milk., drizzling over a little honey if you like things sweeter. Tuck in.

Serves 1–2.

Mr and Mrs Wilkinson's cookbookHow it played out
Poor John gets up hours before me—well maybe an hour—so I made half a batch for just me. Because it was half a batch, it cooked within 6 minutes. My sultanas were a bit dried out so I added them a few minutes into the cooking. That worked well. Didn’t have any bananas on hand so used blueberries and sliced strawberries.

We often make porridge on our truck travels (see my travel blog). It’s a dish that is quick and easy to make, and very filling.

I was glad I made half a batch today. I reckon a full recipe would easily feed three people. I also wish I’d added cinnamon. That said, the blueberries and strawberries were great replacements for banana slices. Loved the pepitas and coconut additions.

If you love porridge, try this recipe.

Porridge with fruit


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Chia pudding

Cha puddingThe Cupping Room cookbook, 255pp.
by Jerome Felix, Caity Reynolds, Jordan Montgomery, Sasa Sestic and Jack Scheeren
Seed Press, no location given, 2016
Cooking on page 32

Once again, I am delighted to share a guest post from Chloe, my friend and fellow dog-lover.

In the past we’ve cooked together to produce several 32-page recipes, including the negroni tart. She’s also contributed two guest posts—one for a salad and one for a cake.

Here’s a bit of history on how I roped her in to do this recipe. From Chloe: ‘Recently I won a raffle and the prize was a recipe book from a popular local café in Canberra called The Cupping Room. The book is a collection of recipes from the café. When I gloated on Facebook about my success in winning the raffle, Peggy commented that I need to check page 32. Well page 32 has a recipe for chia pudding.

‘Chia isn’t something I regularly eat. I’ve tried tubs of chia from the supermarket which are sold near the yogurt as a convenience food and I found I wasn’t particularly keen on the slimy consistency. But for the purposes of expanding my culinary repertoire when I saw chia seeds at my local supermarket I decided I would give this recipe a go and share my findings with Peggy.

‘I decided to make this recipe as a thank you to Peggy for minding my dog while I’m at work, I took her ½ of what the recipe made, the other half I will share with a friend I have visiting for the weekend.

‘It also happens to be Poor John’s birthday and their daughter was visiting. There will be plenty to serve all three adults I think. So this recipe will feed 6 people, something the book doesn’t say. Happy birthday John!’

P.S. Poor John’s birthday was in June and I’m just getting around to posting this now.

Cha puddingChia pudding

550ml coconut milk
65g chia seeds
30g caster sugar
chocolate avocado mousse (recipe below)
1/2 cup fresh berries
1/2 cup shaved coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 160°C.

chia pudding ingredients chia seeds in coconut milkIn a medium bowl, soak the chia and sugar in the coconut milk for three to four hours, or until all the milk has been absorbed.

Spread the coconut on a lined baking tray and toast in oven for three to four minutes, or until lightly browned.

To serve, place chia mix into bowls and cover with a generous layer of chocolate avocado mousse. Top with toasted coconut and berries as desired.

Chocolate avocado mousse (based on chocolate syrup)
Chocolate syrup
Ingredients and method
500ml maple syrup, 125g cocoa powder and 150ml almond milk. Heat the syrup and almond milk in a medium saucepan, gradually sifting in the cocoa powder. Whisk until dissolved.

Chocolate avocado mousse
Ingredients and method
1 tbsp lime juice and pinch of salt. To make the mousse, use two scooped avocados for every 200ml of chocolate syrup. Place avocado and syrup into blender and combine. Add lime juice and salt to taste.

avocados and chocolate syrupHow it played out
From Chloe: ‘This recipe is very simple to make. No heat is required except to toast the coconut and the fanciest gadget needed is a blender (I used a stick mixer as it’s more convenient to clean).

‘The chia seeds are soaked in coconut milk with a small amount of sugar. I let the mix sit for 3 hours and then divided it into two serving bowls. You could divide it up into smaller glasses for individual portions if you have the fridge space before a dinner party.

‘While it was soaking I made the chocolate–avocado mousse. I didn’t make the chocolate syrup they suggested as I had a bottle of Hershey’s syrup in my cupboard and I decided it would do the trick nicely, which it did.

‘The mousse has a lovely texture once blended and I found that salt and lime juice really lifted the flavour. The mousse is tasty but I think from looking at it you expect it to be more chocolatey tasting than it is. I then added the mousse on top of the set chia mix, and topped that with fresh berries (strawberries and blueberries) and some shredded coconut.’

The Cupping Room cookbookVerdict
This dish looks so stylish. It was a fantastic and festive dessert to mark Poor John’s birthday, and it made a great breakfast dish too. I like the fact that Chloe took a
shortcut and used bottled chocolate sauce. Some recipes have too many steps or components.

Poor John’s favourite desserts involve ice cream and chunks of dark chocolate, so I’m not likely to make this in future—not chocolatey enough for him. But we’d be delighted to receive it again as a care package.

Cha pudding

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Spinach and feta dip

feta, spinach and garlicEssential: best-ever meals for busy lives, vol. 1, 314pp.
by Annabel Langbein
Annabel Langbein Media, Auckland, 2017
Cooking on page 32

In this cookbook, Annabel Langbein brings together what she has learned during a lifetime of cooking and eating. It is her biggest and most comprehensive book, featuring her most popular recipes, as well as her personal favourites and dozens of new recipes—more than 650 recipes in all.

This volume covers savoury foods, while volume 2 focuses on sweets. As an aside, this book has one of the best and most user-friendly indexes I have ever seen. Recipes are alphabetised by main and secondary ingredients. A second index is devoted to the book’s cooking tips. A third is an alphabetical listing of recipes under the headings of dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. Truly brilliant for users.

Spinach and feta dip

Spinach and feta dip

250g/8oz feta, coarsely chopped of crumbled
2 big handfuls baby spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp roasted fennel seeds, finely chopped (optional)
ground black pepper, to taste

blending ingredientsMethod
Place all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth. If not using immediately, cover and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

How it played out
When we’re at the beach, the neighbours often get together for drinks and nibbles. Everyone brings something and we usually eat so much that dinner isn’t necessary. This time it was at our house and I had everything for this recipe (except fennel seeds) on hand.

I followed the instructions and the dip was ready in 5 minutes. Langbein noted that the spinach can be replaced by roasted peppers (capsicum) or pumpkin (squash).

Essential cookbookVerdict
Spinach and feta win me over any time. This is an excellent dip and so easy to make.

I already have five of Langbein’s books (check out two more of her page-32 recipes) and would seriously love to own this one. Every single recipe looks tempting, and I probably can’t keep checking it out of the library. 

We’ve had some great travels recently. If you have a moment, please check out our visit to the Marree Man.

Spinach and feta dip with other items


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Curried lemon lamb

marinating lambCurry and chilli cookbook, 112pp.
various contributors
Bay Books, Sydney, 2003
Cooking on page 32

We love curries and I’m always keen to expand my repertoire, so I grabbed this at a secondhand bookstore. Bay Books are a trusted resource for reliable and easy-to-make recipes.

This book explains the common spices and chillies used in spicy cooking. It also describes other common ingredients and accompaniments, and encourages readers to experiment with new ones.

curried lemon lambCurried lemon lamb

1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) lemon juice

spices for lamb Lamb
500 g (1 lb) lamb fillets
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup (185 ml/6 fl oz) boiling water
1 cup (185 g/6 oz) couscous
30 g (1 oz) butter

To make the marinade: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Coat the lamb with the marinade in a shallow bowl. Cover; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Remove the lamb from the dish, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the lamb. Transfer to a baking dish, cover with the marinade and cook in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.

frying lambAdd the water to the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover tightly; set aside for 3–5 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the butter. Thinly slice the lamb. Serve on the couscous, with the marinade juices spooned over.

How it played out
Lamb fillets cost a fortune—$44.50 a kilo—but you have to splurge sometimes. I bought 300 grams  to make just over half a batch. I halved the ingredients for the marinade, which made plenty. Also halved the ingredients for finishing the lamb.

Curry and chilli cookbookThe roasting time was perfect. I let the couscous soak for 5 minutes, in a bowl covered by a small plate. Served with corn and roasted beets.

We love lamb, but rarely enjoy the luxury of the fillets (backstraps). This recipe as a perfect way to showcase this beautiful cut of meat.

I now have two delicious page-32 recipes for fillets. The other is spicy lamb backstrap. If you love lamb and can afford these cuts, I hope you can try both recipes.

P.S. Not a fan of lamb? I think this curry recipe could be made with beef or chicken strips. 

Poor John and I have been travelling recently in West Africa and Vietnam. If you have time please check out my travel blog.

baking lamb

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