27 June 2017

Prawn & Pineapple curry - mmmnn, fruity!

Somehow or another, we've wound up with several little bits of things left over from dishes that either didn't happen, or where ingredients have been too much and a portion of them were put into the freezer "for another day".  One such is a tin of pineapple.  Somehow or another we've managed to accumulate two of them in the tin cupboard, which really is just one too many.

So I set my mind to pondering on what could be done with said pineapple. What it was supposed to be, was part of a salad.  However, England being what it is, the "too hot for anything but salad" days have gone for now and left me with a pineapple glut.  The obvious answer was to bake a pineapple upside down cake - and I wouldn't rule out the second tin being disposed of that way - but I'm afraid I just couldn't justify two cakes in quick succession.  No, I felt sure there was a savoury context I could use a tin of pineapple in - it was just a matter of deciding what.  Once again, the obvious is a sweet and sour chicken dish, but son & heir really isn't keen on that.  Which led me to thinking about the curries that involve fruit.  Our local Indian takeaway does a curry with pineapple and lychee, so I knew it was possible.

What goes well with pineapple, then?  Coconut.  Yep, that's perfect.  Chicken, or fish?  Prawns!  Yes, I believe I've seen salads with pineapple and prawns, so they have to be nice together.  A coconutty, pineappley, prawney .... um .... tomato?  Yes, that'd work, oh and I've got my new tamarind sauce, I could use some of that too!  Coconut cream would thicken it nicely and a combination of curry powders would provide depth of flavour.  And so, the delicious prawn & pineapple curry took form in my mind - and this evening, in my kitchen.

It really proved to be as good as I'd thought it would be.  To my taste buds, it was slightly frisky with chilli heat but for hubby and son & heir, they could have taken it a lot hotter so maybe next time I'll add a few red chilli flakes to just up the heat ante a little.  I could still taste the prawns (which was, for me, a desired result) and the pineapple juice as well as the tamarind sauce gave the curry a delicious acidity, together with - oddly - a degree of sweetness which a handful of peas helped along.

Now as for Cook's Tips, I have just the one which is to make sure that you add the cooked prawns at the very last minute, when you are just about to serve. They only take a twinkling to heat up and you definitely don't want them simmering in the sauce for longer than it takes for them to do that, or you'll have pink curls of prawn flavoured rubber - and nobody likes those in their curry.

So there you are!  The curry took me around 35/45 minutes to make, so it is a good one for an evening when you've not a lot of time or energy.  I really liked this curry and am looking forward to the next instalment of it!  


Ingredients :

1 heaped tbsp solid coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
3 tsp medium curry powder
1 tsp tandoori curry powder
half a tsp ground coriander
quarter of a tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 large vine ripened tomatoes, cored and diced
pinch of sea salt
quarter of a tsp ground black pepper
110g tinned pineapple pieces, with juice
120ml hot water
1 tsp fish stock powder (or a low salt fish stock cube)
1 tbsp tamarind sauce (or 1 tbsp mango chutney)
15g coconut cream
a small handful of frozen peas
15g butter
250g cooked, peeled, cold water prawns.

Method :

Gently heat the coconut oil in a deep frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry, stirring regularly, until the garlic is a light golden colour and the onion has turned transparent.  This should take up to 10 minutes.

Add both the curry powders, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric and stir to combine.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until all trace of dry powder has gone.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well.  Cook until the tomatoes are beginning to soften, adding the sea salt & black pepper along the way.

Add the pineapple pieces, pineapple juice, water and fish stock and stir to combine.  Bring to a lively simmer and simmer to reduce the liquid by at least half.

Add the tamarind sauce (or mango chutney) and coconut cream and stir through until the coconut cream has dissolved and combined.

Add the frozen peas and butter and stir through.  You can now either simmer until the sauce has reduced to your liking, or add a little more hot water to thin the sauce to your liking.

Finally, add the prawns and stir through.  Continue to simmer until the prawns are heated through properly and serve in warm bowls with steamed white basmati rice.

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21 June 2017

Chicken Satay Salad - a long way from ordinary!

We're currently going through something of a heatwave here in the U.K. - June 2017 - and salads are definitely in. However, because I wanted to try and make salad eating something good as opposed to something yawn-inducing (oh come on, you know it can be!), I've been experimenting with some rather out of the box kinds of salads and this one is by far the best we've tried (so far!).

The original inspiration came from the good old BBC Good Food website, as very often happens.  Their version of the salad can be found here and from that you'll be able to see that I've added a little and taken away a little from the original, but it is still very close.  

Yes, it requires a little bit of work before time with marinating the chicken but I also recommend that you wash your lettuce and put it in an inflated freezer bag in the fridge to crisp up.  Doing this makes all the difference to a crisp, crunchy salad.

When you get down to preparing dinner, it really is just a matter of chopping and building the salad, then spending a moment or two grilling the chicken, slicing, garnishing and hey presto - dinner is on the plate.  It really is as easy as that.

I've divided the recipe up into three sections, to make it easier to see what should be used for what.  I hope that proves helpful.

As for Cook's Tips, the only recommendation I have for you is that you chop up the salad before cooking the chicken.  You can always put the salad back into the fridge while the chicken is cooking, so as to keep everything fresh and crunchy.  Then, once the chicken is done it can rest and cool a little while you quickly plate up the salad items.

I can see that this is going to be a regular fall-back salad for blisteringly hot days.  My menfolk thought it was delicious and professed themselves keen to see it again very soon!


Ingredients :

For the chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp curry powder of your choice (I used a medium)
half a tsp of ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tsp runny honey.

For the sauce

1.5 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, it's up to you, but a sugar free version is good)
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
juice of 1 lime
cold water, as required.

For the salad

a selection of salad leaves (I used Romaine and Iceberg lettuces)
a large vine tomato, halved and sliced
cucumber, sliced thickly and halved (two slices/four halves per person)
small seedless green grapes (5-6 per person)
half a red onion, sliced finely
cooked beetroot wedges (four per person)
mustard & cress
fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp dry roasted peanuts.

Method :

At least one hour before you are due to begin cooking, marinate the chicken.

Place the soy sauce, curry powder, cumin, garlic and honey into a large bowl and mix well.

Taking each chicken breast, run your knife horizontally through from the thickest end to the thinnest, creating two thin fillets.  Plate the fillets into the marinade and stir well, to ensure every little bit is coated.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate until required.

When it is time to cook, begin by mixing up the satay sauce.  In a medium sized bowl, add the peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce and lime juice and stir together.  Continue to stir, adding small amounts of cold water, until you have a dropping consistency.  Set aside.

Next, build each salad onto the plate starting with the salad leaves.  Create a small mound of these in the centre of the plate.

Divide the slices of tomato between the three plates, placing the tomato around the outside of the leaves.

Dot the salad leaves with cucumber half slices, then the grapes, then sprinkle the red onion over.

Add the beetroot wedges to the side of the plate.

Sprinkle everything with the mustard & cress.

Next, lay each fillet of chicken onto a foil lined baking sheet and cook under a hot grill (or broiler, if you're in the USA) until just cooked.  Turn the chicken over and cook the other side the same way.  This should only take 6-7 minutes each side.  Check the chicken is cooked through, by cutting into the thickest part and if you can see any sign of pinkness in the juices, put it back under the grill until the pinkness is gone.

Slice the chicken and lay it on top of the salad, while the chicken is still warm.

Drizzle spoonfuls of the satay sauce over the chicken and into the salad - be generous, as the sauce is divine.  

Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and the dry roasted peanuts.

Settle down somewhere cool - and tuck in!

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