Thai chicken coconut curry soup

Now this is what I call soup!

Now this is what I call soup!

Ok, I know I brought you a recipe for Thai curry not long ago, but this soup is an absolute must! And granted, it’s not the most summery of dishes, but once you’ve tasted the insanely powerful and addictive flavours bursting out of the bowl, you won’t care. Hell, you won’t even know what season it is! Yes folks, it really is that good.

Now, I can’t take all of the credit: this soup is an amalgamation of countless recipes found online and in various cook books, with a few of my own additions and subtractions (as most good recipes usually are).

I was actually trying to recreate a soup that my mum and I are in love with from Chao Baby in Manchester (the little sister of Chaophraya). We pay £15 for their otherwise mediocre buffet simply for the Thai soup. It’s incredible. We sit and work our way through bowl after bowl with a set of extremely satisfied smiles on our faces. And I was over the bloomin’ moon when this one turned out to be a cat’s whisker from Chao’s scrumptious offering.

I adapted this recipe to suit my taste, so I’d encourage you to do the same. I like a certain sweetness to my food, so one of the additions I made was a little pouring of agave syrup (natural sweetener). Personally I think this makes a huge difference and you should leave it in, but then I add sugar to curry, peas and bolognaise, so feel free to listen to your own palate.

Some recipes call for carrots and bean sprouts, but I’m not a fan and instead used tenderstem broccoli and asparagus for a bit more substance. An awful lot of recipes also include egg noodles, but I developed this when I went all paleo on your ass, so my version leaves them out. With the addition of cashews and a whole heap of veg, I think it’s mighty filling without the slippery suckers.

I tend to use way more curry paste than most recipes suggest because I like it spicy, but again, listen to your own palate. And whilst you can make Thai paste if you have time, I buy a quality brand that’s free from additives and only includes the incidents you’d put in if you made it yourself. I will make my own paste one day, but for now this serves me well.

To make this most marvellous of dishes, you’ll need:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 3-4 tbsp authentic Thai curry paste
  • 1 fresh red chilli, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • Asparagus and tenderstem broccoli, sliced (as much as you want)
  • Chicken stock (I’m not specifying quantity here because it depends how thick you like your soup and how far you want it to go; I’d suggest adding a ladle full at a time)
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (I hate fish, but this is an absolute must; it totally transforms the taste)
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • A sprinkling of ground ginger
  • A few dashes of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • A handful of cashew nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped

To make the best bowl of soup this side of Thailand:

  1. Place a non-stick wok on a medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp coconut cream; when hot, throw in the curry paste, ginger, ¾ of the chilli, and a little of the coconut milk. Allow to sizzle for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk, cream and some stock
  2. Next up, pop in the kaffir lime leaves so they have time to infuse, along with your chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, and agave syrup
  3. Simmer for ten minutes before adding your onion; after five minutes throw in the asparagus and broccoli
  4. After a further five minutes, stir in the chopped coriander and chopped and toasted cashews (leaving some of each to sprinkle over the top); stir and leave for a minute
  5. When you’re happy with it, ladle into bowls and garnish with the chopped spring onions and remaining coriander leaves, cashews and red chilli

Enjoy with a very cold bottle of Singha beer.

Love Emma xx

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Thai beef coconut curry with paleo rice

Sweet n spicy...heaven!

Sweet n spicy…heaven!

I should probably preface this post with a grovelling apology for being so lax of late: things have been a little busy (read manic) both professionally and personally, and with a new fitness regime thrown in for good measure, my poor blog has born the brunt. But in the woods of Benjamin Franklin: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”, so we’ll leave the excuses there and get on with the recipe.

Thai beef coconut curry with paleo rice. But you can’t eat rice on the paleo diet, right? Well, no, but you can dice up cauliflower real small, fry it up with the holy trinity (onion, garlic and chilli), and create something even tastier.

I’ll admit that going paleo has been pretty tough; not because I don’t like the food, or because I’ve been having particular cravings for bread, pasta or noodles ― quite the opposite, I’ve barely missed them at all. Nope, the real sticking point is the planning, and quite often, the inconvenience. I like to eat out at the weekends, and finding something on the menu that’s ‘paleo friendly’ is damned hard. But we’re all allowed a break, so I don’t beat myself up too much about the weekend slip-ups. I have however experienced quite a few mid-week slips ups, simply through poor planning, so I am going to have to go back to my spreadsheet (yes, I have a meal planning spreadsheet) and get my arse well and truly in gear.

*Success story claxon*

However, on the one night that I did have the right ingredients to hand, I knocked up the best Thai curry I’ve ever eaten ― Thai restaurants included! It was also the first time I’d ever used steak in curry, which counts as a double success in my book.

Hoorah!

To recreate this little bowl of magic, you’ll need the following (in varying quantities because I was cooking for one):

For the curry

  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • Steak (I used rump and bashed it with a rolling pin until thin and tenderised)
  • Thai red curry paste (you can make your own, but I buy an authentic ready-made paste with no additives ― just the ingredients you’d use if you had the time to make it yourself)
  • Can of coconut cream
  • Water or stock
  • Fish sauce
  • Thai basil leaves (three-four)
  • Onion, tender stem or purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus, all cut into similar sized chunks
  • Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • Fresh chopped coriander
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • Chilli flakes
  • Spring onions, finely chopped to garnish
  • Cashew nuts, chopped and lightly toasted
  • Agave syrup (a natural alternative to sugar)

For the rice

  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • Cauliflower florets, diced to resemble grains of rice
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chilli

 To make the magic happen:

  1. Put your wok on a high heat and add a spoonful of coconut oil. When it’s melted and hot, add a spoonful of Thai curry paste (I actually use about four spoonfuls because I like a lot of flavour) and a spoonful of coconut cream, then cook for two minutes (this releases the flavours)
  2. Meanwhile, and in a separate pan, heat some more coconut oil and fry your onion, chilli and garlic for two minutes, followed by your diced cauliflower. This takes about 20 minutes to cook through, so just stir occasionally whilst seeing to your curry
  3. Now, back to the curry: cut your steak into strips and add to the paste; when sealed, add the rest of your coconut cream and a little stock or hot water, along with the Thai basil leaves. Allow to cook for a few minutes before throwing in your chopped vegetables
  4. Next up squeeze in the juice and zest of one lime, a capful of fish sauce, a squeeze of agave syrup, a sprinkling of tamari (or soy sauce), and a chopped bunch of fresh coriander ― along with your chopped and toasted cashew nuts
  5. Allow it to simmer whilst your paleo rice is cooking. When the cauliflower starts to brown and soften, pop in a bowl, pour the curry over the top, and garnish with chopped spring onion, chilli flakes, coriander leaves, and a few toasted cashews

It really is heaven on a plate!

Enjoy with a nice cold Thai beer. My favourite is Singha.

Love Emma xx

Paleo: eating the no wheat, no grain, no dairy sort of way

paleoIf you’re a regular visitor to the blog, you probably know me best for all things fun, frivolous, and utterly indulgent ― from my Oreo cookie cupcakes, Reece’s peanut butter chocolate cake and zesty lemon curd muffins, to party sausage rolls, boozy shepherd’s pie and tasty chorizo tortilla pizzas.

Owing to a pretty speedy metabolism, I haven’t given much thought to my diet in recent years; but since discovering exercise through caveman training (a local class that combines power lifting, plyometrics, agility, speed, balance, and strong man training for a full body workout) I started to think of food as ‘fuel’, rather than an excuse for gluttony. This of course led to a pretty sharp assessment of what I excitedly shove into my cave hole each day (namely, you guessed it, cake ― with regular take outs thrown in for good measure).

Now, whilst this wasn’t making me fat, it also wasn’t making me feel good. I had little energy, got a lot of headaches and stomach aches, and often went to bed feeling uncomfortably full. So when I saw the paleo diet being championed on the caveman facebook page, I was intrigued.

I’ve never done too well with faddy diets, but after doing a bit of research (and finding out that friends of mine had tried it out and felt great as a result), I began to realise that ‘paleo’ (short for Paleolithic) isn’t so much a diet as a way of life. It’s about eating foods that can be picked or hunted in nature, and avoiding foods that can’t be eaten raw. In other words, eating the things that naturally, your body can handle, and avoiding the things that naturally, it can’t.

The basic principles include:

  • No dairy (cheese, milk, cream)
  • No grains (wheat, rice, pasta)
  • No legumes (soy, peanuts, beans, peas, chicken peas)
  • No processed foods
  • Avoiding sugar and refined oils

You can eat as much lean meat as you want, and should aim for a high intake of vegetables. You can technically eat as much fruit as you want too, but as it’s high in natural sugar I try to limit myself to two portions a day. You can also indulge in nuts (but no peanuts, because they’re not actually nuts ― who knew?); but again, keep the quantities down because the fat levels ― however good those fats may be ―are pretty darn high. For maximum effect, you should also up your water intake ― and get plenty of sleep.

So, I’ve swapped potatoes for sweet potatoes and butternut squash, peanut butter for almond butter, cooking oil for coconut oil, milk for coconut milk, flour for coconut flour (you can see a pattern emerging), soy sauce for tamari (a wheat free alterative), sugar for natural agave syrup, mochas for espressos, and stock cubes for homemade stock (most stock cubes contain wheat). And so far I’ve made some incredible tasty recipes!

My favourite being Thai red chicken and coconut milk broth:

Now this is what I call soup!

Now this is what I call soup!

Then there were the fajitas (made with homemade fajita spices, homemade oven roasted salad, and homemade guacamole), completed with gem lettuce leaves instead of tortillas:

I didn't even miss the sour cream

I didn’t even miss the sour cream

Chicken breast marinated in tamari, fresh lime juice, garlic, chilli and agave, with rosemary sweet potato straws and steamed red cabbage:

Heavenly straws!

Heavenly straws!

Rump steak stir fried in coconut oil with cashews, tenderstem broccoli, pak choi, asparagus, coriander, lime, spring onion, garlic, and chilli:

You can't beat a nice bit of rump

You can’t beat a nice bit of rump

Parma ham with toasted chilli and cinnamon walnuts, on top of a red cabbage, caper and olive salad:

Sweet toasty nuts make for a winning salad

Sweet toasty nuts make for a winning salad

Thai red chicken curry with broccoli, onion and asparagus, served with cauliflower faux rice (surprisingly delicious for someone who doesn’t like cauliflower):

So satisfying!

So satisfying!

A post-caveman bowl of chicken stir fried with veg and a teaspoon of almond butter:

Kick ass chicken and veg bowl

Kick ass chicken and veg bowl

And roasted butternut squash tossed in rose harissa, served with toasted pine nuts and a spinach, rocket, red pepper and spring onion salad:

A whole plate of goodness right there!

A whole plate of goodness right there!

I’ll be sharing all of these recipes in full in subsequent posts ― and they all come highly recommended! The Thai broth was actually the tastiest thing I’ve ever made, and I honestly haven’t felt hungry once because of all of the veg I’ve been ploughing through. I feel full, in a good ‘non bloated’ sort of way, and my body just feels ‘right’.

Admittedly, paleo is a little hard to keep up if you’re out at the weekend, but they say to try and stick to a diet 80% of the time, so I’m not going to beat myself up about the mash potato I ate in a nice country pub on Sunday after a freezing cold morning in Port Vale football stadium.

If you’ve tried paleo yourself, feel free to share your comments and recipe ideas. I’m still learning and will bring you plenty of updates (along with my usual naughty recipes ― I’m still a feeder!) I also post photos of my recipes on Instagram and Twitter (@emmaattenB).

Love Emma xx

Chicken mole poblano

20130328-132543.jpg

A few weeks ago, I found a truly wonderful little cookbook, bursting with 365 mouth-watering recipes ― one for every day of the year. After flicking through its many pages to see which culinary concoctions would inspire severe hunger pangs, I honed in on the rich dish proffered for Bonfire Night: chicken mole poblano. I had never ever HEARD of chicken mole poblano before, but the picture made it look incredible, and the presence of peanut butter and dark chocolate in the ingredients list made it irresistible.

To make chicken mole poblano, you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 tbsp chopped or flaked almonds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 350 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 25g/1oz grated plain chocolate, plus extra to garnish
  • Salt and pepper

To make the magic happen:

  1. After heating your oil in a large frying pan, add your chicken breasts and brown on all sides before removing with a slotted spoon and setting aside
  2. In the same pan, add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli and fry for around 5 minutes
  3. Once softened, throw in your sesame seeds, almonds and spices and cook for about 2 minutes, followed by your tomatoes, raisins, stock, peanut butter and chocolate
  4. Stir well, season, and leave to simmer for 5 minutes
  5. After 5 minutes, transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz until smooth, then return to the pan
  6. Add the browned chicken breasts to the sauce and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover, and leave to simmer for one hour. Use a skewer to check that the chicken is cooked all the way through
  7. Garnish with a few of the toasted sesame seeds and grated chocolate, and serve with a plate full of noodles in peanut sauce

Enjoy with a refreshing glass of white wine, or a crisp Thai or Chinese beer.

Love Emma xx

Booze infused shepherd’s (cottage) pie

Proper British grub!

Top tip: make your meat mixture the day before, then leave in the fridge overnight so that all of the lovely flavours fully permeate the meat ― making the sauce even richer

Ok technically, this isn’t shepherd’s pie at all. It’s cottage pie. But I started calling it shepherd’s pie before I found out the difference between what constitutes a shepherd’s what constitutes a cottage; and, well, I’m stubborn. So shepherd’s pie it is.

Once upon a time, my entire meal repertoire consisted of either veggie dishes, Quorn dishes, or chicken dishes. I didn’t like beef, and I certainly didn’t like mince. Well, it turns out that in actual fact, I liked both; and once I’d been brave enough (yes, this does qualify as an act of bravery) to buy some mince steak, unwrap this thing that was nothing like chicken, and add a shed load of flavours to mask the non-chicken like smell, I discovered that I made a pretty mean shepherd’s (cottage) pie. In fact, it was the nicest meal I’d ever made, and to this day remains my signature dish of choice.

I still don’t like shepherd’s (cottage) pie made by anyone else, because I find there are never enough flavours, and not nearly enough booze. In this version, the sauce is incredibly rich and satisfying. As a rule, the meat mixture from your shepherd’s (cottage) pie should be rich enough to double up as the sauce for spag bol ― with the addition of herbs and a little bacon.

So if you fancy making a pie that packs a real punch, follow the simple steps below ― and don’t scrimp on the wine!

You’ll need:

For the meat

  • Olive oil
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 1 pack of lean minced steak
  • 2 glasses of full bodied red wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • A very large dousing of Worcester sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • One beef stock pot
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules

For the mash

  • About six medium-large potatoes
  • A good glug of milk and cream
  • A large knob of real butter
  • A very large grating of cheddar cheese
  • More Worcester sauce

Making the magic happen

  1. Heat your oil in a large pan and add the chopped onion and garlic. Fry on a medium heat until golden
  2. Add the minced steak and turn up the heat slightly. Fry until brown then sprinkle in your Worcester sauce, pour in your wine, and stir well
  3. Squeeze in your tomato puree and stir in, followed by your beef stock pot and gravy granules, then add a glug of hot water and mix well
  4. There should be quite a lot of liquid now. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover your pan and leave to simmer for around 2 hours, then transfer into your pie dish and leave in the fridge overnight
  5. The next day, take the pie dish out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 230C
  6. Make your mash by boiling the potatoes in salted water, simmering for about 25 minutes (or until all of your spuds are soft but not mushy), and mashing well
  7. In a separate pan, heat your milk, cream and butter until melted. Add to the mash in batches, combining each one before adding the next. When your potato is smooth and creamy, stir in two handfuls of grated cheese, mix, then spoon on top of the meat mixture (it should still be firm from the fridge, making it easier to add to the potato)
  8. Top with another generous sprinkling of cheddar, Worcester sauce, and salt and pepper
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the top is browed and bubbling
  10. Serve with homemade Yorkshire puds, sugar snap peas, and a whole heap of thick gravy

Love Emma xx

Empire roast chicken, a la Jamie Oliver

Juicy, spicy, succulent, heaven!

Top tip: leave your chicken to marinate overnight so that the flavours sink right in

Whether it’s a traditonal Sunday lunch or a meaty treat to adorn a pile of golden chips, you’ve gotta love roast chicken. But wouldn’t it be nice if someone spiced it up a little? Well, they did — and we have Jamie Oliver to thank for this exquisite empire roast chicken (or Indian roast chicken, as I think of it).

The lengthy marinating time ensures all of the delicious spices soak through the skin to permeate the flesh, and after a good old roasting, the skin is deliciously crispy.

You’ll need:

  • 1.4 kg free-range chicken
  • 1 heaped tbsp finely grated garlic
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh red chilli
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 heaped tbsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tbsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 heaped teaspoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 level tsp sea salt

Make the magic happen:

  1. Locate a roasting tray that’s slightly bigger than the chicken, then add in all of the marinade ingredients and mix together
  2. Slash the chicken’s legs a few times, making sure you go down to the bone, then pop on a pair of clean rubber gloves and massage the marinade all over and inside the chicken

    Leave those lovely flavours to soak in

  3. Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight
  4. When ready to roast, preheat your oven to 200°C and place a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven (your chicken will sit on the bars of the shelf directly above it)
  5. Pierce the lemon a few times with a sharp knife and place it right inside the chicken’s cavity

    This bird is well and truly stuffed

  6. Place the chicken straight onto the bars of the middle shelf above your roasting tray and cook for around 1 hour 20 minutes
  7. Serve with roast potatoes, or, if you want to make the full Jamie empire meal, see what he serves his with http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/empire-roast-chicken 
  8. And because it would be a crime to let any of those mouth-watering flavours go to waste, you can use the carcass to make stock

    Perfect as a base for soups or curries

Enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine.

Love Emma xx