William Shakespeare once said: “Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.” So in light of this very thoughtful quote, I would like to add that the title of this post was merely chosen as a creative expression of my wandering mind and is supposed to be interpreted with a great deal of irony. 😉
Believe me, I know better than anyone else on this planet that I am not the BEST thing this earth has ever seen. I’m not a brave humanitarian risking my life for others. I haven’t got the voice of an angel, nor do I look like one. And I haven’t won a Nobel prize…yet.
But I can cook. And not just a little. Of course I’m not as brilliant a cook as Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi or Nigella Lawson, but sometimes you do need to give yourself credit for the things you can do! Being proud of all the things you have accomplished shouldn’t be seen as bragging, it’s merely stating the facts.
So at the risk of portraying myself as an incredibly Shakespearean ass: I truly surpassed myself this week! Moreover, the following dishes didn’t just taste and look scrumptious, they are also the perfect representation of me as a culinary wizard’s apprentice. These dishes are easy, full of flavour and –as always- not just a copy of recipe in a cookbook.
Udon noodle salad with marinated chicken skewers
“The best chicken I’ve ever tasted” ~ My Dad. That says it all, doesn’t it?
For the marinated chicken:
• 4 chicken breast, cut into fine strips
• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 large chilli, finely sliced
• 4 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• ½ tsp Chinese five spice
• 8 Wooden skewers
For the noodle salad
• 250gr udon noodles
• 2 spring onion, roughly chopped
• Half a cucumber, cut into half-moon slices
• 1 yellow pepper, cut into fine strips
• ½ red pepper, cut into fine strips
• 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
• 1 tbsp honey
• Zest and juice of a lime
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• Chopped coriander
• Roughly chopped roasted cashew nuts
1. Combine the marinade ingredients and add the chicken, mixing to coat well. Cover and set aside for at least 2 hours or place in the fridge overnight.
2. Thread the chicken strips onto the skewers. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the skewers on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side until the skewers get a lovely sticky caramel colour.
3. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and refresh under ice-cold water. Toss the vegetables and the noodles together.
4. In a jug, mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic and chilli and pour over the noodle mixture. Scatter some fresh coriander and roasted cashew nuts over the top.
Couscous stuffed Portobello mushrooms with tahini sauce
The oriental flavours of this dish will turn any boring supper into a fiesta of the foodie’s palate!
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
• 2 large Portobello mushrooms
• 125gr couscous
• ½ red pepper, finely chopped
• 5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp harissa
• 1 tsp falafel herbs
• ½ tsp fenugreek
For the tahini sauce
• 50gr tahini
• 75gr natural yoghurt
• Fresh parsley
• ½ tsp ground cumin
1. For the sauce, mix all the ingredients together until you get a smooth consistency. Set aside
2. Preheat the oven to 220°C and bake the Portobello mushrooms in the oven for 10 minutes until almost cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to packet instruction.
4. Fry the red pepper in some olive oil and add the spices. Stir through the spring onions and sundried tomatoes. Add the cooked couscous and 1 tablespoon of passion fruit vinegar.
5. Stuff the mushrooms with the couscous mixture and sprinkle some chopped nuts on top. Bake in the oven for a further 3-5 minutes.
Red peanut butter turkey curry
This is comfort food at its best! Or as Nigella would say: “Eating it is like being wrapped in a warm cosy blanket.”
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 600gr cubed stewing turkey
• 1 broccoli, cut into small florets
• 1 pak choi , roughly chopped
• 1 yellow pepper
• 3 tbsp peanut butter
• 400gr can of chopped tomatoes
• 400ml can of coconut milk
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 5cm piece of fresh ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 red onion
• 1 large red chilli
• 2 tbsp garam massala
• Fresh coriander
1. Brown the meat in a large pan. Remove from the pan and set aside. Blend the chilli, garlic, onion, ginger and garam massala together in a blender until you get a smooth paste.
2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pan you used to brown the turkey and add the fresh curry paste. Return the meat to the pan and stir for 30 seconds until the meat is coated in the curry paste. Add the soy sauce, sugar and peanut butter. Stir well.
3. Add the canned tomatoes and coconut milk. Put a lid on and leave to simmer for about an hour.
4. After an hour, stir in the broccoli, pak choi and yellow pepper and let it simmer for another 20-30 minutes.
5. Stir in the fresh coriander and serve with some jasmine rice.
I am pretty proud of this recipe, I have to say. It’s a pasta dish but with all the ingredients I usually like on a plate of antipasti: sundried tomatoes, cheese, sweet melon, parma ham, artichokes, olives,… You name it! Choose any type of antipasti you like, because they will all go beautifully with the garlic and rocket “sauce”.
• 350gr small pasta
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• ½ large red chilli, finely chopped
• 250gr rocket salad, minced in a blender
• Selection of antipasti: melon balls, parma ham, feta, mozzarella, olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes,…
1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Save some of the starchy cooking water for later.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and chilli and cook on a low heat.
3. Drain the pasta and tip into the garlic pan. Add the finely minced pocket and a bit of cooking water from the pasta to create a “saucy” tecture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Now it’s up to you: scatter some of your favorite antipasti ingredients over the lovely pasta and dig in!