THE TINIEST THAI

Salmon with a very good hot, sweet, sour sauce

Salmon's not my favourite fish, I have to say; I often find it too bland.  But is is good for us, being an oily fish, and  I'm experimenting beyond my staples of white fish and - more often - seafood.

And this is a fantastic dinner - full of flavour and goodness, easy to make and, importantly, quick. 

All you need to serve two is a couple of skinless, boneless, salmon fillets, whatever you want to serve with it in way of rice or noodles and vegetables, plus the ingredients for the sauce.

If you have any sauce left over, it'll keep in the fridge in a jar for at least a week so you might like to double the quantities and eat this again soon.

Make this simple sauce by combining: 

1 clove of garlic, chopped finely

1 birds eye red chilli, chopped very finely

a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1.5 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice (probably half a good juicy lime)

1 tablespoon water

Just stir it all together to dissolve the sugar, then set aside.

And cook your rice, if you're having it, so that it's ready to go as the fish cooks quickly.

I'm making some vegetables cooked on the griddle - strips of courgette, some broccoli and asparagus. I just drizzled these with a very little oil and a tiny amount of toasted sesame oil and cooked on a hot griddle for three minutes each side. I also added a grind of salt and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice while they were cooking.

This means that the griddle pan is really hot when I came to cook the fish and I cooked the salmon for four minutes one side and two the other.  I love watching the fish change colour as it cooks through!

Timings will vary a big depending on the size of the salmon pieces, your frying pan or griddle and how you like your salmon cooked!

I sometimes like it a bit more pink in the middle than I made it today and to get it like that I use a non-stick frying pan with a few sprays of oil and cook it four minutes one side then turn and cook a minute more on the other ... but today I felt like having it cooked through and also wanted those lovely charred lines from cooking on the griddle.

Serve with your rice and / or vegetables and just spoon the lovely sauce over it all.

Rachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce
Rachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce
IMG_7671.JPGRachel Redlaw salmon with a good hot sweet sour sauce


LIKE THIS? YOU MIGHT WANT TO TRY THESE ...

Eating for overwhelm // white fish with ginger + onions

A lovely soothing dinner to ease a stressful day.

Working under stress, at a fast pace, can mean feeling nauseous and dizzy - and here's where ginger can help.

Onions are good for the heart and reducing high blood pressure, but my belief is also that eating for your heart also nurtures the heart emotion, that overwhelm that can come with stress.

And white fish is soothing on the digestive tract, soft and soothing to eat too.

Serve with a little white rice (which is easier to digest than brown) and with a green vegetable stir-fry, with a little chilli and soy sauce, to give hope and vibrancy  ...

This is a good choice for a dinner to wind down, take some time, allow yourself to relax, let all that jumpiness and tightness unwind a little.

I use my beloved remoska electric cooker for this, but you could put the fish into foil parcels on a baking tray or just straight into an ovenproof dish with a lid - and cook in a medium heat oven.

Here's what you'll need for two:

2 white fish fillets (cod, hake, haddock - up to you)

cooking oil

2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon light brown demerera sugar

4 teaspoons fish sauce

the zest and juice of a lime

1 onion, peeled and finely sliced

coriander leaves to garnish, if liked

Put the fish into the remoska, foil or oven-dish and add a few sprays (or a couple of teaspoons) of oil, then the ginger, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, lime zest and juice and a splash of water and cook in a medium oven for 20 minutes or so - check that it's cooked through.

Rachel Redlaw the food healer fish with ginger and onions
Rachel Redlaw the food healer fish with ginger and onions

Cook your rice and any vegetables you'e serving with this ready for when the fish has cooked.

Five minutes before the end of the fish cooking time add a few sprays or a little oil to a non-stick frying pan and cook the sliced onion until soft and golden.

Serve the fish with rice and vegetables and topped with the fried onion and coriander leaves.

Rachel Redlaw the food healer fish with ginger and onions
Rachel Redlaw the food healer fish with ginger and onions


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Pork belly + noodles

Sticky, crispy pork belly, with soft noodles and lovely warm flavours - this is my favourite comfort food of the moment.

Really simple to make, and really good.

Quantities are kind of flexible so it's up to you if you want more of the pork belly or more of the noodles, or to make the sauce more of a soupier texture. Or just more of all of it of course!

I'd say maybe 2 pork belly slices per person and we want these good and dark and sticky and crispy, so add a couple of tablespoons of light soy sauce and another couple of runny honey. 

Mix it all together and then cook on a baking tray a medium oven (or in a remoska, like me), turning a few times, for 45-60 minutes. You can finish under the grill if you really want it crisped up more.

Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles
Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles

While the pork is cooking, prepare some dried rice noodles according to the pack instructions so they're ready to stir fry.  

I like these vermicelli rice noodles for this dish and mine took longer to soak than the packet said - I like them very soft in this dish anyway, so soaked mine in a pan of boiling water (taken off the heat the minute it comes to the boil and the noodles thrown in) for about ten minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water to stop them cooking further.

They can then just wait until the pork's done.

Also prepare the other ingredients:

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 - 1 red chilli depending on your taste and how you feel 

2 or 3 tablespoons - maybe a little more - water

1/3 Knorr chicken stock cube

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 finely sliced spring onions

fresh coriander leaves, chopped

When the pork is cooked, remove it from the baking dish and slice into bite-sized chunks - I also remove some of the fat if it's very fatty but that's just personal choice, so do whatever's going to taste best for you.

Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles
Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles
Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles

Then put a non-stick frying pan on the heat, add the tiniest amount of oil - I use a few sprays of a spray oil - and add the onion, garlic and chilli, stir frying for a couple of minutes.  Add a splash of water if it looks like it might be sticking - garlic burns really easily so keep it moving and add that splash of water if you need to.

Then add a good slosh of water, crumble in the piece of stock cube, add fish sauce and bring it all to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes or so until the onions are soft.

Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles
Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles

It's entirely up to you if you want to add more or less water, to make more of a sauce or more of a dry dish.

When the onions are softening, add the noodles, and stir fry for another few minutes - again add water if you need or want to - until the noodles are hot through.

Then add the pork pieces and stir - cook for another minute or so, then add the spring onions and coriander, stir through, remove from heat and serve.

Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles
Rachel Redlaw pork belly and noodles

Finish with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and - that's it!

finished.JPG

Yes it takes a little time for the pork belly to cook, but then the rest of it is just combining a few ingredients really.

Eat and enjoy .... 



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New fave salad dressing // rare roast beef Thai-style salad

Yep, I made my salad with rare roast beef because I was in the supermarket and this lovely piece of beef was in the marked-down pile.

I hate food waste.

I also hate not choosing meat that's free-range and/or organic, animals who had a happy life. Sometimes I have this internal tussle about whether it's 'better' to choose that poor little battery hen who's ended up in the reduced pile, it's life worth nothing in life or death .. or whether to stick by the principle that if we don't buy that stuff, well, that's the important thing, to ensure there's ever more limited demand.

It's a hard one. 

Anyway, that was a bit of an aside as on this occasion, I did buy the reduced little beef joint, and cooked it rare, as I like it.

So this is a long-winded way really of saying that this post is actually ALL about the amazing dressing ... and serve the salad with whatever you choose! 

Make a salad out of JUST those things you really love - I used to make salads stuffed with things I didn't - goodness knows why, perhaps it was habit or thinking that was what you 'had' to have.

I’ve got peppers, radish, spring onion, celery, carrot, tomatoes .... plus some sliced red chilli.

Not too much chilli either - just enough to feel it tingle - as the dressing shines and doesn’t want overpowering.

And then add some toasted flaked almonds and fresh coriander and mint leaves, chopped.

This really adds to the beautiful fresh flavours - DO add these! 

And then such a good dressing!  Here we go!

This was enough to dress a salad for two:

 the juice of one juicy lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

a piece of ginger (grated)

1/2 (or one small) garlic clove minced very fine

All just stirred together to dissolve the sugar, poured over the salad and mixed with my (clean!) hands.

Rachel Redlaw Thai salad dressing rare beef salad
Rachel Redlaw Thai salad dressing rare beef salad

Then topped with the sliced rare beef, or whatever you're choosing to have with it.

This is kind of a back-to-front salad, starting with the dressing rather than the meat or salad itself!



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Sesame chicken

I was making a salad for my lunch and about to just put some chicken on the griddle and then decided to do something different with it. I had been thinking about toasting some sesame seeds to put in the salad but thought I'd cook the chicken in them instead.

This is really simple and made a nice change!

Start by making a very quick sugar syrup for the salad dressing.  

It's just 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used demerara sugar but white sugar is fine) brought slowly to the boil in a small pan with 3 tablespoons of water, then stirred to dissolve the sugar and remove from the heat. 

I sliced the salad vegetables that I had in the fridge, which was courgette, carrots, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Use whatever you have and like!

To make the chicken, I used half a chicken breast and sliced it again into two thin strips (you need it thin so it cooks quickly, so do give it a bash with a rolling pin between cling-film or greaseproof paper if you need to).

Then I just tipped some sesame seeds (I think it was two tablespoons) onto the chicken and added a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce and coated the meat.

Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken
Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken

I used my 1-calorie spray oil (20 sprays) into a pan and then fried the chicken until cooked. Cook the chicken quickly on each side to brown and crisp the sesame seeds and then cook for another 2-3 minutes each side until cooked (cut into it to check).

Because there's not really enough oil to fry it, I did have to add a splash of water too once the seeds had browned.

 
Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken
 

If you're not on a weight-loss diet, then use a tablespoon or two of cooking oil to fry the chicken and you won't need the water! 

Once cooked, leave to one side to finish the salad. 

Using a pestle and mortar crush into tiny bits (but not a mush) a birds eye chilli and a garlic clove.  Then tip in the cooled sugar syrup, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and the juice of a lime and combined with the salad before topping with the sesame chicken.

Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken


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Thai-inspired meatballs + rice noodles

Some dishes are prettier than others and this isn't a very pretty one.

But it tastes MUCH better than it looks and it's really simple (as always) too - so do give it a try.

I made it with beef mince as that's what I had in the fridge, but pork and chicken would both be good and change it up a bit.

Also, I used lovely fresh rice noodles as I'd been to the Thai supermarket and these are my favourites, but dried rice noodles are good, or you could have the meatballs with rice, or even with pasta. All going to be good! Prepare your noodles or rice first so it's all ready to go.

So, for meatballs for one, I used: 

approx 100g mince

half a carrot, shredded and diced

a little piece of ginger, diced

1 birds eye red chilli, also diced

(If I'd had parsley, I'd have added a small handful of that too, finely chopped)

one little lime leaf that was in the salad drawer - I just removed the stalk and chopped the leaf into very fine slices and diced. If you don't have lime leaves, then I'd grate some lime zest in

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and then scrunch it all up to combine and shape into little meatballs.

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs

Then prepare the sauce ingredients.  

You'll need:

1/2 cup boiling water with about 1/3 of a knorr stock cube (I used chicken)

another little piece of ginger, diced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 birds eye red chilli, finely chopped (use just half if you don't want it too spicy of course)

2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal to look nice

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

 
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
 

And then you just put a frying pan over a heat and either add a tablespoon of cooking oil or, if you're losing weight like me, 20 sprays of that 1-cal-per-spray cooking oil and put the meatballs in.

Keep turning until they're browned all over and if using the spray oil, you'll probably need to add a splash of water too. It takes a few minutes.

When browned, add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a few seconds, then tip in the stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook for around 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, fish sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs

Cook for another minute or so, tasting to check you're happy with the balance of flavours, and that's it. 

Ready to serve!

Some parsley or coriander, chopped and scattered over, might have looked nice, but I didn't have any ...

Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs
Rachel Redlaw Thai meatballs


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Sunshine food / simplest souvlaki + Greek salad

A Bank Holiday in the UK often (like today) = a bit grey and cloudy.

So, nothing for it but to cook up THE most sunshine-y lunch I can think of right now - and that's an easy, delicious chicken souvlaki, with Greek salad.

And rose. Pink wine just says SUMMER!

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad

For two, I used one big chicken breast, cut into small cubes and put in a bowl to marinate for 30 minutes or so with:

the juice of 2 lemons

and the zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

then I used a teaspoon of this lovely salt with lemon and thyme, but you could use 1/2 teaspoon each salt and thyme

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad

While the chicken marinates, make an easy Greek salad. 

I used:

1/2 red onion, sliced as thinly as possible

2 tomatoes (on the vine - you want the sweetest tomato-est tomatoes you can find), cored and cut into chunks

a piece of cucumber (I took off most of the skin as it was quite tough), cut into chunks

a few very thin slices of green pepper 

some black olives 

1 teaspoon each of red wine vinegar and olive oil (no need to mix first)

a good squeeze of lemon juice

some salt and black pepper

.. and then I tossed it all together using my (clean) hands to make sure it was all combined

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
 

As I'm making this lunch while on my Tiniest Thai weight-loss diet I didn't put a big slab of feta on the top (I'm a bit addicted to feta) and just crumbled a little to make it go further - and sprinkled it with a little more dried oregano. 

Again, if I weren't on a diet, we might have had some nice hot toasted pitta bread too but ... I can't be trusted not to eat the rest of it once it's got in the house! 

Once the chicken's marinated, thread it onto wooden or metal skewers and cook.  I cooked mine on the hot griddle, adding the rest of marinade over the chicken, but you could also cook it under the grill or fry in a pan.

I cooked mine for probably 4 minutes each side, turning now and then, and checking it was cooked thoroughly before serving. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad

Serve with the salad, pitta bread if you're having it and some lemon on the side to squeeze over.

And if you, like me, like a glass of rose when you're pretending it's summer, have one (or two) of those too!

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad


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5 fave breakfasts/brunches

Usually a weekday breakfast is something quick - a croissant, fruit and yogurt, a green smoothie or just toast and marmite.  My daily cup of tea first thing and then a coffee grabbed on the way to the office (flat white please!).

And several days a week I skip breakfast altogether as I'm interested in intermittent fasting and by having dinner a little earlier than usual the night before, say finishing at 8pm, and then not eating until 1pm the next day, that's created a nice 17 hour break for your digestive system (and I find it easy to do, with a couple of coffees in the morning though - I'm not that strict about it).

But when there's time to cook something more special, and time to enjoy and spend longer over breakfast, chatting or reading, these are my favourite brunches.  I'm not sure you can call them breakfast really when it's after 10am.

So after a cup of tea, after journaling, after a walk outdoors round the park, here's what I come back and make ...

 

1. Eggs in purgatory

A little garlic, a very little chilli, eggs poached in tomatoes and sprinkled with parmesan. Mine rarely make it out of the pan when I make this just for me as I dunk bits of baguette in and scoop spoonfuls straight from the pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Kai jeow - Thai omelette

Yes, another eggy breakfast. Eggs are good!

I love this Thai omelette - really savoury with minced pork, served with some chopped chillies in fish sauce.  You can serve it with rice or have it on its own.

I also do a super-quick version using ready cooked diced chicken or pork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Pad krapow gai - spicy stir fry with chicken and holy basil

I ate this all the time for breakfast when I lived in Thailand.  

I loved that there was all the usual variety of food for breakfast, rather than 'breakfast food' as we often categorise it.  

I'm not sure why that is, but it doesn't have to be that way and for me, a favourite first meal of the day is this very spicy, very good stir fry with rice - and sometimes with a fried egg on top too.

If you can't get holy basil, it's still worth making without it.

 

4.  Kao pad gai - chicken fried rice

Rachel Redlaw kao pad gai chicken fried rice

Especially good if there's been a rice dish the night before - I deliberately cook extra rice so there's some for breakfast as this is best made with cold cooked rice.

Just something so comforting about this dish (it's a good one for mopping up hangovers too).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. And number 5 ... is a total cheat!

I couldn't decide, so it's 'anything made from a combination of these ingredients'!

Avocado, smoked salmon, eggs and spinach.

Rachel Redlaw breakfast brunch
RAchel Redlaw avocado on toast

It could be avocado on toast with a squeeze of lime and a little salt and a few chilli flakes.

Or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on spinach. Poached eggs on sliced avocado with a little dill on top. Any combination of these things is going to be a winner!

 

So ... what are your favourite brunches? 


Rachel Redlaw

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Yam plaa - crispy fish salad

My nephew bought me a Thai cookbook for Christmas, one I haven't seen before.  It's called ... hold on ... The Little Thai Cookbook - and there's some great recipes in it.  I love reading cookbooks so am thoroughly enjoying working my way through this one.

When I find any recipe in any cookbook I like the sound of, or that I've eaten before, I then think through if there's any changes I'd make or what else I could make with it. 

So, with just a very few Tiniest Thai changes, this absolutely delicious crispy fish salad has shot to the top of my current home-alone favourites - when I'm cooking just for me, this is EXACTLY what I usually want to eat. 

It's spicy + sour and crunchy + salty, full of flavour and texture 

And the basic salad and dressing is so simple to adapt to other toppings if you're not in a crispy fish kinda mood.  

I've made it with a chicken, prawn and red pepper topping, stir fried in a little soy sauce and also with prawn and squid. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad

I absolutely love hot and sour salads and hope you give this a try

So, crispy fish salad for one ... you'll need .. 

a piece of white fish (I had cod)

1 tspn salt

1 garlic clove

1 red bird eye chilli (or more if you have milder chillies, or want it spicier!)

1/2-1 tablespoon fish sauce

juice of one lime

1 tspn sugar

1/4 red onion, cut into chunks

2 spring onions, sliced

3 or 4 cherry tomatos, halved, or 1 tomato, chopped

1 carrot, julienned or diced

small handful each of fresh mint and coriander leaves, chopped

a tablespoon peanuts, chopped (or use other nuts, I toasted almond flakes today, but peanuts are best!)

cooking oil 

Heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180C.

Rub the salt all over the fish and get all the other ingredients together.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Put the fish on a rack over a baking tray and pop in the oven for 20 mins.

While it cooks, start the dressing by roughly chopping the garlic and chilli then crushing into a paste with the mortar and pestle. Don't pulverise it but do be aware that you're going to be eating whatever sized bits of chilli and garlic you end up with, so adjust to your taste! 

Add the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Chop and prepare all the salad ingredients and put into a big bowl. 

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
 

Tip over half the salad dressing, stir or scrunch (with clean hands!) to combine - and set aside.

Take the fish out of the oven and flake with a fork, or with your hands, until it has the consistency of large breadcrumbs.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Pour quite a lot of oil into a wok and heat until a tiny piece of fish dropped in sizzles on hitting the oil.

Then add the fish 'breadcrumbs'.  Leave to cook in the very hot oil for 30 seconds and then stir, and leave again.

Mine took longer to cook than I'd thought it would and actually I'll leave it longer next time as it's so good when it's really crispy!

Keep cooking and stirring (very carefully) then remove the fish with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper or strain into a bowl (and then dispose of the oil when it's cold).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad

Put the salad onto a plate, add the crispy fish (or other topping) and mix.

Pour the remainder of the dressing on top and mix again - before eating ... 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai hour and sour crispy fish slad yam plaa


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1 roast chicken / 5 recipes / 7 meals

Food waste. Shocking stats - the latest numbers I remember are that here in the UK alone we throw away 5,000 chickens and over 1m sausages every single day.  Plus around 4m apples and potatoes - again every single day.

Whatever we can do individually to combat this, no matter how seemingly small, has got to be worth doing. 

Not buying too much in the first place is easiest, buying more food fresh as it's needed. Planning ahead for the week.  

And, of course, using up leftovers.  

Leftover rice can become a kao pad.  Risotto turns into Arancini (stuffed rice balls), and stale bread into that lovely Italian salad, Panzanella.  So many good things to make through being aware of not wasting food. 

I decided to see how many meals I could make from one roast chicken, and it was more than I'd expected! There was probably a little less meat at each meal than I would usually serve, but that's no bad thing and something I'd like to consciously continue to do.

Last weekend's roast chicken started off being cooked in my remoska.  I love my remoska - I asked for it as a birthday present over ten years' ago and it makes the best roast chicken and the best jacket potatoes.  I think it's because it's a small space so it really steams beautifully as it cooks.  Whatever the reason, chicken is incredibly moist and the skin perfectly crispy.  I also use it for one-pot dishes like a savoury rice or stews - in fact I feel a whole remoska post of its own coming on one day soon!   

But back to the roast chicken ...  


Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mixed up some lemon/thyme salt that was in the cupboard with butter and rubbed that under the skin of the chicken (careful not to tear the skin) and put a couple of squashed garlic cloves (no need to remove the skins) in the cavity along with a quartered lemon, after squeezing the juice over the bird.  

I also massaged it with a little olive oil.  And then cooked for an hour and a half or so.

 

Sorry about the horribly unappetising photo!

I totally forgot to take any when it was cooked, or looking delicious with a colourful fresh salad - but I did want to show how snugly it fits in the remoska which is why it cooks it so beautifully.

 
Roast chicken five ways Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai
 

We had slices of hot chicken with a big couscous salad - couscous cooked and cooled with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, chopped fresh mint and parsley leaves, a little olive oil, black pepper and lots of lemon juice.

Roast chicken + couscous salad: for two


Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

 

 

 

 

 

I just put the whole board of leftovers in the fridge that night and the next day made myself a noodle soup for lunch, using a packet of instant noodles.

Put the kettle on so you'll have boiling water when you need it.  

Then just stir fried a squashed and chopped garlic clove and a chopped chilli in a little oil for a few seconds until it smells good.

 

Add the noodles, their seasoning packet and a small pinch of sugar, some sliced spring onions plus boiling water (I just put in as much as I think I want depending on if I want it soupy or not, rather than measuring it out).  

Simmer for a few minutes until the noodles are done and just at the end throw in some spinach leaves or pak choi and coriander (if liked). 

Roast chicken five ways Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

Chicken noodle soup: for one


Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That evening, I needed something just for me, so cooked some rice and made my favourite fakeaway, a chicken jalfrezi.  

 

I changed the recipe a little as I was using cooked chicken so added it later on in the timings.

 
Friday night fakeaway jalfrezi Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai
 

Chicken curry: for one


Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

 

 

 

 

 

Next, time to make a very simple stock.

I'm a bit lazy when it comes to stock making and don't spend ages getting every scrap of meat off.  I tend to just stick the whole carcass and all the meat and bits straight into a big pan.

Add one roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery stick, a few black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves and then cover with water.

 

Bring to the boil, skim off any scummy bits that have risen to the surface, and then simmer very gently for an hour or two. 

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai
Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

I then turned off the heat and left the stock overnight on the hob with a lid on it as it was late and I wanted to get to bed! 


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The next day, the stock had become very gelatinous so I warmed the whole thing for a few minutes on the hob until it was liquid again, then strained.  Before throwing away the bits in the strainer though, I picked out all the meat I could and threw it back in the liquid.

To make my Thai-influenced soup, I started with sweating half a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in a big pan - oh and one chopped chilli too!

 

When these were soft, I poured in the stock liquid, added half a chicken Knorr stock cube and some more boiling water - to increase the volume to what's needed.  If you don't need more, you might not need to add the extra stock cube too.

Once this comes to a simmer, I added cooked rice, some spring onion, a little dash of fish sauce and one of soy and some black pepper.  Taste and taste and see what you think!

I'd meant to add a squeeze of lime juice ... but forgot .. 

Served in bowls with coriander leaves (just omit if you don't like coriander; I know a lot of people don't) and some sliced red chilli.

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

Kao tom gai / chicken rice soup: for two


Roast Chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was only a little left in the pan, after we'd gone back for seconds (that's why it's worth adding the extra water and a bit of stock cube) ... and normally, I might well have thrown it away.

But it looked enough for a bowlful and it is so cold at the moment - I thought it would make a good and nourishing breakfast.  

 

So in the morning, I just turned the gas on under the kettle for tea, and the gas under the soup pan to heat the chicken rice soup.

Do make sure it boils and heats through thoroughly.

I cracked an egg into a bowl and ladled the boiling soup on top, which on stirring, lightly cooked the egg.  I added coriander leaves and some sliced chilli and that was that.

Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai
Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai
Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai

Very simple and very good. Especially on a very cold morning! 

Rice soup for breakfast: for one


So, my one roast chicken made made five recipes (roast, noodles, curry, stock, soup) and seven meals.

(Oh, and Tiny Dog loves chicken and had a little piece chopped in with his biscuits for five meals too!)

Would love to know your favourite leftover recipes too so do reply in the comments! 



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Spicy steak salad / yum neua

The most delicious and simple lunch for one.  

I'm a big believer in making meals special and I hate the thought that you might eat purely for sustenance 'just' because it's only you you're cooking for.

So today, home alone, I made myself this salad and I highly recommend you sometime soon do the same!

Or make double and have it with someone else of course - I'm not saying keep it to yourself, just that it's as easy as heating a tin of soup to make yourself something that tastes incredible.

Steak salad with a hot and sour dressing for one then it is.  

Coming right up.

You'll need:

1 steak - whatever you like.  My preference is for rump, but sirloin would work too.

light soy sauce

fish sauce

1 lime

sugar

1/4 - 1/5 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 spring onions

one little gem lettuce, or other lettuce leaves

coriander leaves

mint leaves

a red chilli, to garnish 

 
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
 

Get the steak out of the fridge half an hour before cooking and put on a plate or in a bowl with a slosh of soy sauce.  It cooks better from room temperature. 

I made the dressing first, before cooking the steak, and it's so easy! 

In a bowl put 1 tablespoon fish sauce, the juice of a lime (should be about 2 tablespoons so you may need a little more or less), 1 teaspoon of sugar and the dried chilli flakes (note - weirdly half tsp was fine when I made this for one, but one tsp way too much when I made it for two, so go cautious).

Stir to dissolve the sugar and then add your sliced spring onions.

Shred some lettuce and put it on a plate, and chop some coriander and mint. Prepare a few slices of red chilli ready to serve.

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

Cook the steak to your liking.

I usually griddle it for a few minutes each side, but today cooked it under the grill, much more slowly than if cooking a steak to eat whole in a pan or griddle.  I cooked mine 7 minutes each side.

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

Let the steak rest for 4 or 5 minutes, then slice crossways into thin slices.

Add the steak to the bowl of dressing and stir or scrunch (get your hands in there!) to combine.

Put the steak mixture on top of the lettuce and pour over all the dressing.

Top with the coriander and mint leaves, and a few slices of red chilli (if liked). 

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

SO delicious.  

Please please try this one and let me know what you think! 



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Does feta make everything taste better?

I'm currently obsessed with feta cheese.  But less as a cheese and more as a seasoning. 

It's slightly sharp and sour and salty, and a little crumbled over many dishes just makes them that little bit more special.

Experiment with any dishes you like of course, and I'd love to know what you found works, but my top three (this week anyway) are ... 

1. Salads

Rachel Redlaw feta

Any salads really.  

I've had a little feta in my lunchtime salads this week.  

All of them had a variety of leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and spring onions.  A couple of days I had avocado, and some black olives, another day I had some chicken that I'd stir-fried the night before with red and yellow peppers and some oregano.  

All with a little olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. 

All with feta crumbled over at the end.

2. Omelettes 

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

Two eggs, beaten and a few pieces of diced butter.  One tomato or a mushroom, chopped finely.  

Heat the pan and add a little olive oil, tip in the airy beaten eggs and the chopped veg on top.  Season.  

Cook, tilting the pan, letting the uncooked egg run under where it starts to cook and right at the very, very end, crumble in some feta, fold the omelette and remove from heat.  

Eat ... 

3. Couscous and stir-fried things

Rachel Redlaw feta

I always though couscous was both incredibly bland and also a bit of a faff (with putting it into a bowl mainly so probably not that much of a faff really) until I saw this recipe in Jamie's 15 Minute Meals.

Ingenious, simple and tasty way of making couscous.

While the kettle's boiling, throw some spinach leaves in the food processor along with some mint leaves and a couple of spring onions.

Blitz up then remove the blade and throw in half a cup of couscous (for two people) and a whole cup (just double the water to couscous) of boiling water.  

Cover and leave while you cook the rest.

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

When done, just fluff up the couscous with a fork, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (or to taste) and season with salt and black pepper.  Stir well.

For the topping, the original recipe was chorizo and squid, with red peppers stir fried with a drizzle of honey and some sherry vinegar.  I had chorizo but not the other things so did a stir fry with chorizo, garlic, chilli, red pepper then after about four minutes added some prawns and scallops that I'd found in the freezer.  A splash of water, a squeeze of lemon, a tiny pinch of sugar. 

I've made this couscous before with all sorts of toppings - chicken, chorizo, seafood, stir fried veg ... all good. 

Tip the couscous onto a plate or platter, top with the stir-fry and ... yep ... crumble over some feta cheese. 

Rachel Redlaw feta

These are just a few ideas, but I can't wait to hear what else you add feta to!



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Sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry

One of my sisters emailed me a recipe this week for 'Mumbai Sardine Chutney' using tinned sardines and mango chutney - and I confess my first reaction was 'YUK'! 

But she said it was much nicer than it sounded and that they had had it twice in a week as it was good value, easy and tasty.  So of course I gave it a try.  And it was all of those things.

I had some leftovers and the next night thought I'd use some mushrooms that were in the fridge to add to the sardine curry, but then decided rather than mixing it straight in I'd try making a mushroom version on its own and then combine. 

However, I found I much preferred the version made with mushroom rather than sardines!

I did find the sardine flavour a little strong for my taste, although I would have it again. In the meantime though, I've had the mushroom mango chutney curry twice more as I wanted to be completely certain that this slightly unusual sounding combination actually does go together.

And for me, it does.  I'd love to know your thoughts on this one - whether it's on the sardine or the mushroom variation! 

Let's start with the original, with the sardine curry.

For 2-3 portions, you'll need 

cooked rice or chapatis, to serve 

cooking oil 

1 small-ish white onion, chopped

1 green pepper

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp turmeric

2 bay leaves

2 x 120g tins sardines, drained 

2 tablespoons mango chutney

a handful of coriander, chopped and a little red chilli sliced, if liked (it's quite spicy anyway)

Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
coriander and chilli.jpg

Put a little slosh of cooking oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and green pepper and cook over a low-medium heat until soft.  This always takes longer than I think (as I'm used to fast stir-frying!) and takes probably 5 or 6 minutes.

 
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
 

Add the spices and bay leaves, fry for a few seconds then add the sardines and mix well.

Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry

Add a little splash of water if it's too thick, and cook for a couple of minutes until the sardines are hot through. 

Stir in the mango chutney then top with the coriander and chilli (if using) and serve with rice or warm chapatis. 

Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry

To make the mushroom, version, well, it's exactly the same ... except with mushrooms! 

I used about this many which made enough for two small chapatis (yes I ate both), so I halved the quantities of everything else, using half an onion, half a green pepper, etc.

Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry

I did add a splash of water to the mushrooms while they were cooking.

mushrooms in.jpg
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry

I also made a quick yogurt raita to have with the curry - just a very small garlic clove very finely chopped, some natural yogurt, some diced cucumber, all stirred together and drizzled with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt.

 
Rachel Redlaw sardine or mushroom mango chutney curry raita
 


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Foodies Agenda's Citrus Yogurt Cake

This is the cake recipe that Kate from foodies agenda shared with me when we talked recently, and I'm glad for many reasons that she chose this.

I don't have a sweet tooth, to start, but I do have a citrus tooth! I absolutely love citrus flavours, to eat, to look at, to smell.  

Grapefruit and Wild Orange are two of my favourite essential oils (to put in the diffiuser or for my morning 'detox shower') and I always have a big bowl of limes as I use so many.  

And of course, they just look so pretty with their gorgeous colours.

 
 

I'm also glad she chose this because I very, very rarely bake ... so whilst I'm usually confident cooking and can trust my sense of taste, baking feels very different.  It always makes me nervous when I put the cake or pastry or whatever it is in the oven without feeling like I quite know what's going to come out! 

This recipe is delicious - the cake is made with coconut oil and is very moist.  It isn't too sweet and the flavours are fresh. I think it's a really elegant cake too.

There are only a couple of cakes I've ever made that I've then made again, and this has joined them.

I will definitely be making this one again! 

If you're  in Australia or the US, then I'd suggest you go straight to the original recipe as it's really simple and you'll be using measuring cups.  

Here's the recipe on foodies agenda.

 
 

But I managed to get myself confused over a few things ... because I don't ever bake.

I also never use measuring cups - I had thought it was only an American measure.

Turns out (I did a bit of googling) that American cups are 240ml and Australian cups are 250ml.  So not enough difference to affect the recipe and if you use either American or Australian measuring cups then just go ahead and make it.

I also found out that apparently we do have measuring cups in the UK and ours contain 220ml. The things I was reading then got way too technical for me and were advising how to convert volume to weight. Yes, exactly. 

So what I did was measure out 250ml water and thought I'd pour it in a mug and just use roughly where it came up to for each measure.  But then the water exactly filled a little teacup and so this little teacup is forever more going to be my Aus/US measuring cup.

My other concern was that - you guessed it - I've never used my coconut oil for baking and it's set completely solid and I imagine it needs to be liquid to measure it in a cup. 

Problem solved by just putting the jar in some hot water for about ten minutes - coconut oil has a pretty low melting temperature. 

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake

All ready to go with my new-found knowledge of measuring cups and how to melt solid coconut oil!

Just sharing all this in case there's anyone else out there as unknowledgeable about baking as me.  

Most people will have skipped over all this and already have cooked and be eating their cake by now I expect ... 

On to the recipe itself, which is incredibly simple, especially as none of that off-putting creaming butter and sugar together - you just pour in coconut oil! 

What you'll need:

1 cup demerera sugar

2 medium free range eggs

2 lemons, the zest of both + 2 tablespoons of juice

1 orange, the zest of half (I put in a little more than half) + 1 tablespoon of juice

1 pinch of salt

2 cups of self raising flour, sifted

1 cup of natural or Greek yogurt

3/4 cup coconut oil

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake

Preheat the oven to 180 / Gas 4

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and airy and the sugar has dissolved. I used my electric whisk and it was done in seconds ... 

Then you throw in the lemon and orange zest and juice (quantities in the ingredients list), followed by a pinch of salt and the sifted self-raising flour. 

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake

Fold in the yogurt.  I'm never sure about folding but do know to be gentle with the mixture and only folding/combining the ingredients without over-mixing to try to keep the end result light.

Then gradually pour in the coconut oil little by little, again gently combining to keep the air in.

When it's all combined, Kate's instructions are to: 

'Grease a 22cm springform cake tin or line with baking paper'.

Oops! Another non-baker's problem.  I don't have a round or springform cake tin.  So my choice was from a loaf tin and a 22cm square tin.  I went with the square tin as think the loaf tin might have made the cake too dense and the middle might not have been cooked.  So I greased that with a little butter and poured in the cake batter.

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake

When I first read through the recipe, I'd been a bit worried that my cake batter wouldn't look right, but batter is exactly what it looked like! Started feeling quite excited about this, especially as the batter on it's own was delicious (yep, I scraped the bowl out).

Put the cake on the middle shelf and then the recipe says to bake for 30-35 mins until cooked all the way through and golden brown. 

I don't know whether it's me or my oven (shouldn't be the oven which is a lovely steady-temperature-holding gas oven) but whenever I do bake a cake it always takes a LOT longer than the recipes say.

I tested it after 30 minutes by putting a sharp knife in, but it came out with batter still on the knife. And I kept testing it until 20 minutes later than the recommended time when I decided it was probably done. 

Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool a little before releasing from the tin - or tipping it out.  You can see all the stab marks where I kept testing to see if was done!

But I didn't burn it and it came out of the tin so well, all in one lovely piece. 

(Yes my 'cooling rack' is the grill pan)!

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake

Next time I make it I'll cook it for even longer as mine was lovely on the outer sides but the middle was still a little doughy (although it still tasted really good).

Dust with icing sugar and grate over a little more zest before slicing and serving. 

I'm really pleased with this! Perfect with a mid-morning coffee I'd say.

Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake
Rachel Redlaw foodies agenda citrus yogurt cake


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Stilton & spinach pasta

The Christmas and festive period has finished and I've been back at work three days.  All the chocolates have been eaten and the Port has been drunk.  

But there's still a fairly good-sized piece of Stilton lurking in the fridge and I neither want to throw it away nor eat it on yet more biscuits (or on celery of course which is actually my favourite cheese carrier.  Is carrier the right word?).

So, stilton and spinach pasta it is and it's very good and super simple too. 

It's also quite rich - as it would be - so I made a quick and easy salad of just fresh little gem lettuce leaves and a mustardy dressing to go with it.  I have salad at most meals and this is my favourite dressing.  

I make it one day then pop it in the fridge and just add to it the next day - it keeps going for about a week before I tip the last bits away, wash out the glass and start again. In the summer this never-ending dressing goes beautifully with tomato and onion salad.

For the dressing just put a couple of sloshes of olive oil in a glass, jar or mug and a good slosh of white or wine or rice vinegar.  Peel and squash a garlic clove and throw that in and then stir in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Taste and see if you need more oil or more vinegar to get the balance right for you. 

Put the lettuce leaves in a bowl, spoon on some dressing, add black pepper and a very little salt and that's the salad done.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Cook as much pasta as you like and while it's cooking, you can start the sauce. You will need the pasta cooked and drained to add to the sauce near the end of cooking.

For two, I had: 

light olive oil for frying

1/2 a white onion, sliced very finely 

creme fraiche (I used half fat), a couple of tablespoons

the piece of Stilton (it weighed about 80g)

2 big handfuls of spinach (about 100g)

black pepper to taste

 
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
 

I fried the onion in the olive oil for about five or six minutes until soft and golden - and I added a spoonful of boiling water from the pasta pan when it looked like it was about to stick and maybe burn.

When soft, add the creme fraiche and stir in then crumble in the Stilton and cook on a low heat until the cheese melts.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Add the cooked, drained pasta and the spinach and stir in for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Tip into a serving dish and add some black pepper to taste.

Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta
Rachel Redlaw stilton and spinach pasta

Let me know if you make this and please do share your own recipes and ideas for using up that Christmas cheeseboard ... 



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January salad

January food, to me, is ALL about freshness.  

After a lot of rich food over the Christmas period I absolutely crave a return to spicy fresh tastes and I really want salads ... and chillies too!

I want spicy and sour and sharp and completely zingy, plus crunchy and fresh.

So I've been making variations of my 'January salad' all week.

 
Rachel Redlaw January salad
 

So easy, it's just a simple basis from which to experiment - and a great way to use up things in the freezer - which is the other thing I'm doing in January.  No more buying what I feel like on the way home when in the freezer I found chicken, pork mince, scallops, squid and prawns!

To go with the salad I cook rice and a quick protein-based stir fry.  

One night it was strips of chicken sprinkled with a little soy sauce and some black pepper and stir-fried.  Another night it was prawns and squid stir-fried with sliced red and yellow peppers and a dash of oyster sauce.  Anything easy and quick and just what you have really.

Just don't make it spicy as the salad is hot! 

And, onto the salad part itself then.

I KNOW this is going to sound a bit of a faff for a salad but bear with me - it's honestly not, there's just a few components, but they are really simple to make and they make your salad something special. 

Read through right to the end before you start making it - and see what you already have that you could use! 

These are the approx quantities I use to make 'January salad' for two (greedy) people, but you really do have to taste as you go with this one and get it to your liking.  

The more often you make it, the easier and more instinctive it gets of course.

First, make the sweet part of the dressing that will balance out the spicy and sour flavours. 

Put two tablespoons (measure them!) of light brown sugar (use white if you don't have light brown) into a small saucepan with three tablespoons of water and slowly bring to a boil, simmer gently for literally just a minute and then remove from the heat.

Rachel Redlaw January salad

Next put all your salad-y things in a big bowl with room to toss it all together later.  

I used about 3/4 of a bag of 'crunchy' salad from the supermarket so it was crunchy lettuce and red cabbage and carrots.  I added thinly sliced green pepper and white onion.  

All of these are good: white onion, red onion, spring onion, carrots, courgettes, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, peppers and anything else that's crunchy.  Just slice it nice and finely so it looks lovely as well as tastes good.

Put a few cherry tomatoes to one side to add later, or quarter a tomato or two (remove the core! no one wants to eat the core!).

I also really like a bit of added crunch to the texture so some nuts are good if you have them.

A small handful of peanuts would be perfect.  I didn't have any in the cupboard, so quickly toasted some flaked almonds in a hot dry frying pan for a few minutes.

Now the fun bit.  

Put a roughly chopped clove or two of garlic (depending on size) and a roughly chopped chilli or two (I used two birds eye chillies) into a mortar and crush them up with the pestle - you want them in really small pieces but not a total mush. 

Next my 'secret' ingredient - dried shrimp.  This is optional but if you can get hold of it (at an Asian supermarket or online) it keeps forever in the freezer, takes only minutes to defrost and makes your pad Thai authentic too ... 

 
Rachel Redlaw dried shrimp January salad
 

If you're using dried shrimp, add a small handful to the chilli/garlic mix and give it a bit of a bash then add the nuts (if using) and crush a bit more.  

Then add peanuts - if using - and bash a bit more.  (I was using more delicate toasted almonds so just added them at the end rather than over-crushing them now).

 
Rachel Redlaw January salad
 

Then the tomatoes go in to be squished and THEN tip everything from the mortar into the bowl of crunchy salad and stir it all in and maybe give it a bit of a crush with the pestle to make sure it's all mixed.

Pour in the sugar syrup, add 1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce and squeeze in the juice of a lime.

Use your (clean!) hands to scrunch and toss it all together and add a handful of chopped or torn coriander leaves too, if you have them and if you like coriander (I know a lot of people don't).

And, this is the really important bit, TASTE it and see if you need more fish sauce or more lime juice.

 Personally, I like my salads very spicy and very sour, but I've learnt to tone it down a little bit if I'm sharing - haha - so I think the quantities I've given should be right for most people, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to taste and make sure it's right for YOU.  

It's YOUR dinner so it needs to suit your palate.

And that's it.  

Honestly, I love this and right now eat a variant of it several times a week  - and often take leftovers in to work too for lunch the next day (with an extra chilli to add slices of and an extra lime to squeeze in).  

 
Rachel Redlaw January salad
 

I love the sharp flavours and the freshness, the soft chicken or prawns and the steaming rice with beautiful spicy sour salad.

Really want to know what you think of this one, so please do comment if you make your own version! 



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Delicious, different & easy NYE cocktail party ideas

I have SO many recipes and ideas for things that are easy and delicious to make for a party that I thought it would be useful to do a quick round-up now just ahead of New Year's Eve.

These are not only easy and delicious but will be something a little bit different to normal canape fare - and I also believe that by this stage in festive proceedings, most people are more than ready for some fresh flavours and spice after a few days of rich - but bland - food.

Here's two of my favourite cocktail recipes: 

Lemon prosecco punch and lemon vodka sours (yes I like lemon and citrus flavours!).

And my very favourite snack to have ready and warm when guests arrive is spicy cashew nuts.

Raachel Redlaw spicy cashew nuts

Really easy to prepare ahead - chop and slice everything and then just fry before serving warm - is this larb gai.  It's a spicy warm salad and if you serve small portions in little gem lettuce leaf 'cups' it's a fresh and different canape.

A really nice veggie version are these mango, chilli and lime cups.  Just make sure to only prepare an hour before serving so they don't go mushy! 

Rachel Redlaw larb gai spicy salad
Rachel Redlaw mango salad

These pork and prawn balls are a guaranteed winner! Serve just two on a cocktail stick and with a dipping sauce - honestly, everyone loves them! 

Rachel Redlaw pork and prawn balls
Rachel Redlaw cucumber dipping sauce

No Name are delicious vegetable fritters - make ahead of time and then just fry before serving with a sweet chilli sauce

 
Rachel Redlaw No Name vegetable fritters
 

And I love chicken or pork stir fried with garlic and served (again) on little lettuce leaves.  Really tasty and different! 

Rachel Redlaw pad gratiem

Oops! Can't believe I nearly forgot these pork and prawn sesame toasts! Classic - and easy to prepare ahead and then fry just before serving with a little soy sauce for dipping.

Another winner! 

Rachel Redlaw pork and prawn sesame toasts

And to end ... how about these little balls of deliciousness, pimped up however takes your fancy?!

Rachel Redlaw bits of deliciousness

But the main thing is to host a party with love and spirit - so I'm sure your guests (and you) will have a great time no matter if you just put out bowls of crisps!

If you do try any of my recipes, I'd love to hear if you and your guests liked them so please comment below or come over and chat at my FB page.



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Thai-style pork ribs

I made these this week (for the first time) for a Tiniest Thai supperclub and they were really very good and, as importantly for me, very easy too.

And I was absolutely delighted when one guest instagrammed them with this description:

Rachel Redlaw Tiniest Thai Thai-style pork ribs
Tender, juicy and full of sweet, sticky, salty, zesty, spicy fresh flavours
— Lucy B

The ribs need time, more than effort - and will need marinading from the night before.  I'd wanted to make ribs for some time but couldn't quite get a recipe that I liked - I googled and googled and read so many but they just didn't even read as if they had the flavours I was looking for.  

Eventually I came across a recipe on BBC Good Food and have based mine on that. 

You'll need ...

(and I can't tell you how many this feeds as I made it in the week as a starter course as part of a bigger menu for four and am making it today as a light lunch for three with rice.  So it entirely depends on what else you're having and how hungry you are).

 
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
 

around 500g / half a rack of pork ribs (mine were frozen, so I cut them into individual ribs at home when they had defrosted, but you could ask your butcher to do this.  I'd also wanted them halved into shorter pieces but even with this big cleaver I only managed to cut down around half of them so that's another job to ask the butcher to help with if you want them short too)

For the marinade:

3 birds eye chillies, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

small bunch of coriander (keep a small handful of leaves to garnish) - if liked.  If you don't like coriander, just leave it out, or try a handful of parsley instead

a small piece of ginger, chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

4 tablespoons soft brown sugar

For the sauce:

100g or around half a mug of white sugar

around 125ml or a small wine glass of water

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped

1 scant tablespoon fish sauce

the juice of 1/2-1 limes

Put all the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor and whizz up until it makes a rough paste.  Tip into a bowl and add the ribs, rubbing to coat them all the marinade. Put in the fridge overnight. 

Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs

Then make the sauce.  Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring very slowly to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. 

 
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
 

Remove from heat and stir in the garlic, chilli, fish sauce and squeeze in half a lime.  Then taste! Limes vary a lot in juiciness so you'll just have to taste and decide if it needs more.  To be honest, I nearly always think things need more lime, so I just squeezed in a whole one!

Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs

Cool then keep in the fridge overnight too.

When you come to cook the ribs the next day, pre-heat the oven to warm so Gas 3 / 160C and tip the ribs and the marinade onto a baking tray.  

Cover loosely with foil and put in the oven for an hour.

Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs

Turn up the temperature to Gas 6 / 200C, remove the foil, turn the ribs and cook for another 20-30 mins, until the meat just easily pulls away from the bone and they are brown and sticky.  If they need browning and stickying up, switch the grill on instead of the oven and keep them under there for a few minutes - watching all the time as they will easily catch and burn.

Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs

Put out onto a plate, drizzle over a little of the sauce and then serve with rice and with more of the sauce if liked (it soaks into the rice beautifully, but if you're not having rice you probably don't need it).  

Some stir fried green vegetables would have been nice, or a spicy salad ... but today it's just ribs 'n' rice.

Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs
Rachel Redlaw Thai-style pork ribs

Oh and my top tip.  Put the baking tray in to soak immediately.  I completely forgot the other night and left it in the oven for two days - and it was then a much harder job to get clean!

Let me know what you think of the ribs.



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Jassy's bacon & egg pie

I recently got to talk with food writer Jassy Davis about blogging, food and life .... and she was kind enough to share a recipe with me.  

A comfort-food-sounding-winner of a Bacon and Egg Pie. 

But, it also made me a little bit nervous about making it because to me, baking and pastry, y'know, they're TECHNICAL cooking.  And I don't really 'do' technical cooking. My cooking is generally based on throwing things together, cooking stuff quickly, and all about taste, taste and taste it again and adjust (and learn to trust your own pallette). 

However, I also really loved the sound of her pie, and I really wanted to make it.  

And I want other people who might have the pastry fear to have a go to.  You'll see on the header photo on this post Jassy's pie on the left and mine on the right.  Honestly, I'm pretty proud of how it looks (and it tasted much better than it looks) and I'm now inspired to have a go at more pastry.  Well, maybe this pie again a few times more before I move on to anything else. 

I was also really pleased when she suggested this recipe because it reminds me so much of one of my grandmothers.  My gran Irene (known as Rene), was a cook - she'd gone into service at the 'Big House' as a teenager and learnt and worked her way up to being a cook.  When she died, my dad (her son) found some of the notebooks with her handwritten recipes that she'd noted down as she learnt more dishes. I really want to find those notebooks - I think they're somewhere in the attic at my dad's and it's a job now back on my list to find them!

When I was little and we went to visit and stay with my grandparents in Sussex, I was always excited about the food, and about watching and helping my grandmother cook.

She had a little kitchen with the open door straight to the back steps down to the garden and sometimes I'd just sit on the steps in the summer sunshine with the smell of the pots of geraniums all down the steps (geraniums are still a favourite scent of mine today), with a cup of tea (in a cup and saucer) and Gran pottering and cooking behind me.

She made the best full English breakfasts, with delicious little fat herby sausages from the butcher.  She made beautiful salads and roast dinners and new potatoes with butter and sprigs of fresh mint from the garden.  And she made a perfect bacon and egg quiche.  I loved Gran's quiche so much that during a very short period of being vegetarian as a teenager I was very tempted by it.  

Especially because my grandparents were of a generation that didn't really 'get' vegetarianism and I now think they just thought I'd given up red meat.  Once when we were staying I was offered quiche for lunch and on turning it down on the grounds of being veggie, my grandmother said in kind of horror:

Oh, but I didn’t think you meant BACON!
— Irene Walder

And to be completely honest, when I saw that quiche and also smelt the bacon frying in the morning, I changed my 'vegetarianism' to allow eating bacon too.

So do give Jassy's pie a try, even if you're scared of pastry, or even if you're a vegetarian!

Actually, I can see that this pie would be fab made with perhaps leeks instead of the bacon.  If you give a veggie version a try, please get in touch and let me know what you tried and how it worked out.

But back to our glorious bacon and egg pie and Jassy's recipe which says it serves eight (but I'll always leave this vague as it's just so dependent on hunger, greediness, etc!) ... 

You'll need:

 
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
 

FOR THE PASTRY
240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g chilled salted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
60g chilled lard, cubed


FOR THE FILLING
480g good quality unsmoked streaky bacon (make sure it’s good quality – you don’t want your pie ruined by cheap bacon bleeding salty water all over it)
150g crème fraîche
142ml pot soured cream (the pot I bought was 150ml so I used nearly all of it)
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp milk

First fill a glass with water and add an ice cube.  Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter and lard.  Rub together with your fingertips to make it look like breadcrumbs.  This took me back literally DECADES to possibly the last time I made pastry ... 

Add a little iced water and bring the dough together with your hands (add more water if needed).  Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Preheat the oven to Gas 7 / 220 C and place a baking tray in to heat.  

Butter a loose-bottomed 20 cm cake tin (I had to borrow one of these and I think it would be really useful to have one of those ones where the main tin has a hinge mechanism - I'm sure this sort of tin has a proper name but I don't know it! Anyway, one's going on my Christmas list).

 
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
 

Chop the bacon into small pieces around 1 cm wide.  I used one of my favourite big knives and chopped through the whole pile at once! 

Beat together the creme fraiche, sour cream and eggs and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper (no salt! It's pretty salty already with all that bacon). 

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Here's where it go a little tricky for me.  You slice off 1/3 of the pastry and set that aside.

Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the 2/3 left to make a circle that's approx 25cm across. Now this I just couldn't do.  

Mine stuck and didn't roll too thin and the more I played with it the more I realised that that was not going to help.  So I just did my best and lined the cake tin as best I could and patched it up with other pieces of pastry. 

You then scatter the bacon all over the pastry case then pour over the egg mixture.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

What should happen next is that you roll out the remaining pastry (that 1/3 you set aside) to make a 20cm round and lay that on top of the pie.  Fold down any pastry running up the sides and pinch them together.

Jassy does say, 'don't worry if a little of the filling oozes out of the top, it's a messy looking pie', which was at least a little reassuring because I was getting worried by my patchwork quilt effect pastry efforts! 

Brush the top of the pie with the milk - and if yours is anything like mine it'll now have wrong-looking pools of milk in the crevices of the pastry patchwork quilt.  But I carried on!

I even made pastry letters to write 'PIE' across the top.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Bake for 50 mins - 1 hour until golden (and even slightly brown).  It smells SO good as it's cooking!

Cool in the tin for 15 mins then run a knife around the edges to loosen, sliding the tin sides of the pie.  Ummm, this didn't exactly go according to plan for me, but I managed to get the pie out! 

 
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
 

Leave to cool completely and chill until you want to eat it as it tastes best served cold.

Well, obviously THAT didn't go to plan either!

I was ravenous and wanted to try it straight away. I had a slice hot with some extra black pepper and my home-made brown sauce (recipe to follow soon) - and I had another slice the next day cold for lunch.

And yes, Jassy's right.  It tastes best served cold - but whether you have willpower enough to wait until then is another matter.

Definitely going to be making this again and would love to hear from you if you make it too! 



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Wat ton hor / fried noodles in an egg gravy

A few days ago I'd never heard of this dish and now I've made it twice in two days! A colleague at work was telling me about this great dinner they'd made, a noodle dish, from Gizzi Erskine's Healthy Appetite.  Another book to go on my wish list! 

I'm a Gizzi fan and a noodle fan so that was it for me, no further discussion needed - and I bought the few things I needed that I didn't already have at home ready to make it.  

Well, except for making a trip to the Thai supermarket to get the wide rice noodles it really needs (it's been freezing in London this weekend and has not been weather for going out).  

So I used some thin dried rice noodles from the supermarket that were in the cupboard and it was so good I can only imagine how much better it's going to be with those wide slippery noodles.  So much so that I'd even go out in freezing rain for them next time I make this if necessary.

This dish is another that I know might sound a bit odd. Egg gravy anyone?

But as with my recent discovery of Eggs in Masala, it's another one that is just so much lovelier than it sounds.

Another one that's just perfect comfort food for wintry days (and nights) . .. it's soft and soothing and delicious. 

Back to the recipe.  The recipe I'd been given was for four, so I just made up what the measurements would be for one (very greedy) portion.  I had to improvise a little at various stages and wasn't quite confident enough in my version to share it.  

But I was very intrigued by the recipe so searched online and found a few other versions and made mine again today with more confidence and slightly more simply. 

This serves a huge portion for one very hungry person (it actually defeated me today which is unheard of - but don't worry, I went back to it and finished it off an hour later) or two as a very light meal.  Or just add a few more noodles for two and another rasher of bacon to make it for two - honestly, I don't think it's possible to ruin this dish no matter what you do!

Prepare the noodles as required so they're ready to stir fry, and then then other ingredients you'll need are:

cooking oil 

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

1-2 cloves garlic (your choice, I used two), finely chopped 

a small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 rasher unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces

some thinly sliced chillies in a little soy sauce, to serve

some slices of squid (I had one small squid ready cleaned from the supermarket fish counter) - I like it in slices then scored so they end up rolling up into tubes, but you could use ready sliced into rings calamari if that's what you have

a few prawns - I had four - deveined

1/2 cup or so chicken stock (I used half a Knorr cube and then just topped up with boiling water straight into the cup)

light soy sauce

white sugar

white pepper

some pak choi or other leafy green vegetable

one egg, beaten (you actually only need half an egg, so instead of breaking straight into the pan, it's easiest to beat it first and then tip in half.  To be honest I was a bit heavy handed and it didn't affect the deliciousness!)

Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy

Heat a pan, add a glug of oil and when hot add the noodles, soy sauces and oyster sauce and stir fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time so the noodles don't stick.  Some recipes say to cook until 'charred' or 'caramelised' but I wasn't really sure what this would look like so just cooked a little longer than I'd though necessary, so all the sauces are coating the noodles and then noodles are hot through. 

 
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
 

Tip into a bowl and put somewhere to keep warm.

Wipe the pan with kitchen paper if your noodles stuck at all, or just put straight back onto the heat and add some more oil, then the chopped garlic.

Stir fry for a few seconds until the garlic smells good and add the ginger, bacon and squid and stir over a medium heat for a few minutes, taking care that the garlic doesn't burn (don't have the heat on too high!). 

Add the prawns, stir and tip in the stock plus a dash of soy sauce, a pinch of sugar and a shake of white pepper.  Stir and then simmer for two or three minutes til the prawns are done.

Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy

Next stir in the cornflour and water mixture and keep stirring for a minute or so as the gravy thickens.  If it looks too thick just add a splash of water.

Add the pak choi and stir for another half a minute, then turn the heat off and immediate pour in (half) the beaten egg, stirring all the time so it scrambles . Keep stirring until it's all combined and the egg cooked in the hot gravy.

Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy

Get the bowl of noodles and unstick them a little if they've stuck together a bit then top with the lovely gravy. 

Top with some of the sliced chillies and soy sauce, if liked.

finished 2nd 1.jpg
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy
Rachel Redlaw wat ton ho fried noodles in egg gravy

Twice in two days and I'm still not sick of this! If it wasn't for the fact I have a bacon and egg pie to make I'd even be considering having it for dinner too!

Would love to know what you think! Please make it and let me know. 

PS. Next time I make prawn balls, I'll be saving a few to freeze to halve and have with this dish. I'd fry them at the same time as the bacon and squid.



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