Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Kinds of Men in the World

Meal: Thai Red Prawn Curry, Jasmine Rice, Cucumber Salad and Papaya Platter

So the whole thing is... we don't have any jasmine flowers (even though they are a weed in many people's garden... our garden is, of course, totally weed-free and a model of urban green space) so Lou came up with the inspired idea of infusing some lemongrass into basmati rice instead. Not really 'homemade jasmine rice' but never mind.  Also, it turned out that the curry paste (that I TOTALLY made from scratch!) was pretty strong and it may not have mattered if I had infused the rice with diesel... you couldn't taste it.  There was, however, a brief moment (before the other spices and hacked bits from our herb garden [actually and truly weed-free]) weren't dominating the kitchen and the rice smelt quite fragrant as it cooked. Result.

Now, at this point, I feel it is important to clarify that there are only three kinds of men in the world.  Those who eat prawns and love them, those who tolerate prawns (in the same way that you tolerate third formers when you reach the lofty heights of 6th form)  and those who believe that prawns are nature's plughole - collecting foul cast offs in the kitchen sink of life as they hover about sewer outlets in Taiwan, treading water with their mouths open. I am, as luck would have it, a man who quite likes them.  You won't ever hear me banging on about how much I like them (I didn't say that I trust them), but like them, I do.  The curry paste (that I made from scratch - did I mention that?!) was tossed into a hot frying pan with 1/2 the prawns and then baked for about 10 mins in a hot oven - they were crispy and delicious.  The other 1/2 prawns were softened alongside a boat load of snow peas also in said curry paste with an obscene amount of coconut milk.  I really enjoyed it and would like to make it again.

Cucumber salad:  lovely... but 3 tablespoons of oil Jamie? Really? I'll use a telegraph cucumber next time (Wife interjects here to say that it WAS a telegraph cucumber and even the receipt said so). No good. Can't hear you...

I substituted quite a few things out because they weren't in season here in NZ.  I secretly wish that papaya was out of season because, well, it kind of tastes like feet.  The lime zest mixed with plain greek yoghurt played against the mint leaves, pawpaw and banana fairly.  At the end of the day, it felt like a refreshing dessert.  And I would never talk about how bloated I was on the internet (even if I was... and i didn't say I was...) because that's how common people behave. 

In summary, I am left feeling satisfied and pleased with my travail in the kitchen this evening.
I leave you, fellow charlatans, no longer a "make curry paste from scratch" virgin.  How exhilarating!

Time Taken: 61 mins
(lots of distractions tonight though; little boys, neighbours, wife fussing about 'the right platter', elusive coriander etc)
Cost: $24.36
Chef: Blair

Baked Tiger Prawns - the highlight.
Could've tripled the quantity as
the recipe only suggested 8.

Cucumber Salad before the toss

Thai Red Prawn Curry with Snow Peas

Papaya Platter - A Refreshing End.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A 41-minute Roast

Meal: Roast Beef, Baby Yorkies, Little Carrots, Crispy Potatoes and Super-Quick Gravy

My brother Lee (this is Lou) is over in NZ from the UK for a couple of weeks (for a wedding) and has managed to cover Auckland, Dunedin, Queenstown, Wanaka, Rotovegas and Tauranga in that time. His family could be forgiven for being unsure that he was actually here at all being that we saw him for a grand total of approximately 150 minutes (but there was a wedding and a girl so we will let it go... for now).

Anyway... tonight we had our usual Sunday family dinner shuffled to a Thursday night so we could catch up with Lee before he hit the airport again tomorrow.  It coincided with our date night so we thought 'what the heck' and decided to cook our Jamie meal for everyone. Fortunately it was a meal that was easily enlarged (though we could've enlarged it even more, it went down so well!) and catered for 6 adults and 2 kids.

The biggest hits were the Yorkshire Puddings - having never made them before, I was impressed with how simple the recipe was, how fast and easy to make and how scrumpy they were. Mum was particularly flabberghasted as, though she has been a Cordon Bleu chef since 1971 *cough*, she claims she has never got the hang of the suckers - they 'just sit there' she says. So I smiled, quietly chuffed with myself (thanks Jamie!)

Mum also loved the gravy (beef juices, red wine, mushrooms etc) but I found it quite a dominant flavour.  Everyone raved about the crispy potatoes (fried in rosemary and garlic - that recipe is going straight to the pool room) and I loved the dressing on the watercress-that-was-actually-mesclun-in-a-bag salad.

Overall the meal was a hit. Lots of lovely comments which is always good for the chef-esteem.

Time Taken: 41 mins
Cost: $23.51
Chefs: Lou & Jacqui (who actually is one)

'Smashed' Crispy Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Better-than-Mum's Yorkshire Puds

Roast Beef in Thyme, Sage and Rosemary