Friday, February 15, 2008

Thai Red Curry Paste

Makes about 8 tablespoons

4 medium Red Chillies
4 teaspoons Coriander Seeds
2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
4 stems Lemon Grass, trimmed and chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh Ginger
4 Shallots
6 cloves Garlic
grated zest and juice 2 Limes
2 level dessertspoons hot Paprika

1] Split the chillies in half and remove and discard the seeds.
2] Pre-heat a small no-stick pan over a medium heat and add the coriander and cumin seeds.
3] Gently toss them around in the dry pan for about 5 minutes, but don't let them blacken and burn.
4] Using a mortar crush them into a fine powder.
5] Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz them to a coarse paste.

You can freeze in tablespoon portions and it will be usable for a couple of months.

Thai Pumpkin Custard

From Darlene Schmidt,

This custard is spectacular to look at, and wonderful to eat. Makes a great Halloween or Thanksgiving dessert recipe, and a nice alternative to pumpkin pie. A small pumpkin (or squash) is hollowed out and then filled with an easy Thai custard (a healthier and lower calorie version than traditional custard, plus it's gluten-free). It is then baked in the oven for an hour. Serve warm or cold with a splash of maple syrup or brandy and a cup of strong tea or coffee.

* 1 small pumpkin or pumpkin-like squash, approx. 6-7 inches tall x 8-9 inches wide)
* 9 eggs
* 2 cups good-quality coconut milk
* 2 cups white sugar (or you can use brown sugar, which will make the custard a little darker and not so sweet)
* pinch salt
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* maple syrup to serve
* optional: brandy or other favorite liqueur

1. Wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin or squash. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Using a sharp knife (and being careful not to cut yourself), cut a "lid" in the top (as you would to carve a jack-o-lantern).
2. Remove the "lid" and slice off the seedy part, so that you're left with a clean lid or hat. Set aside.
3. Using an ice cream scoop (or large steel spoon), scoop out the seeds and "guts" of the pumpkin. You may have to get in there with your hands, which is always fun (!). Save seeds to roast in the oven later with a little oil and salt, or simply discard.
4. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or whisk, beat the eggs by hand until fluffy (or use an automatic mixer set to low or medium) - about 1 minute.
5. Add the coconut milk and vanilla. Beat again for 1 minute, or until well mixed.
6. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go, until all sugar is added and has dissolved in the egg mixture. Note: This may seem like too much sugar, but the custard does need to be sweet in order to compensate for the slightly bitter taste of the pumpkin/squash.
7. Pour or ladle the egg mixture into the pumpkin. Tip: try not to spill any on the outside of the pumpkin, or it may burn. If you do spill some, wipe it away with a cloth. Don't overfill - leave about 1/2 inch of room room at the top, since the egg mixture will rise a little out of the hole (it is not runny, so this is fine).
8. Set the pumpkin plus the "lid" together in a roasting pan (a metal or stainless steel roasting pan works well). Pour a little water (1/8 to 1/4 inch) into the bottom of the pan.
9. Being careful not to spill the contents of the pumpkin, place dish in the oven to bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
10. When the pumpkin on the lid is cooked (soft), remove from oven (about 1/2 hour).
11. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, you should see the custard rising like a bubble out of the pumpkin. Try inserting a long cake tester down into the custard (or use a wooden skewer/satay stick if you have one) - it should come out clean. You can also poke the top of the pumpkin itself (with a fork) to make sure it is soft enough to eat. If the custard hasn't set , or if the pumpkin/squash is still too firm to eat, return to oven and bake another 15 minutes to 1/2 hour.
12. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to move. The pumpkin can be sliced and eaten when cool enough. Or, place the pumpkin on a plate and refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight). This will help the custard firm up. Note: The custard may "drop" a little - this is normal.
13. To serve, replace the "lid" or "hat" of the pumpkin, or set it slightly askew so you can see the custard. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the pumpkin into slices (see picture) and place them on serving plates. Eat as is, or serve warm (heat up in the oven or your microwave). Pour a little maple syrup, plus a little brandy or your favorite liqueur (if desired) over each piece. Pair with a cup of strong tea or coffee, and ENJOY!

Korean Beef on Chinese Cabbage

For 4


1 tablespoon sesame seed
80 ml Soy Sauce
2 Spring Onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh Ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper or Red Chillies

Sirloin steak, trimmed, about 3/4 inch thick (150g per person for a light course)

1] Dry roast the sesame seeds until toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes.
2] Let them cool then crush them.
3] At the crushed seeds to your marinading dish and mix in the other ingredients.
4] Add the Steak, cover and marinade for 1-8 hours in the fridge.
5] Remove the Steak from the marinade and cook under a preheated grill until just getting crispy.
6] Boil the marinade and simmer until it thickens.
7] Lay the Steak strips* on a bed of rice and the cabbage and dress with the reduced marinade.

*You can cut the Steak into strips before you marinade it, or before you grill it, or after you have grilled it.

Chinese Cabbage

500g Pak Choi
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
3 Spring Onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh Ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Chillie Powder
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1] Slice the Pak Choi length ways into thin strips.
2] Heat the Oil in a non stick pan and quickly fry the Spring Onions, Ginger and Garlic.
3] Add the Pak Choi, Stock, salt and Chillie Powder.
4] Cook until the Pak Choi is still a bit crunchy, a couple of minutes.
5] When ready to serve, stir in the Vinegar.

The amount of Stock used here is flexible. You can use a little to keep the dish dry, or use lots of stock which leaves you with a really tasty sauce to wet the rice with.