Time today for a much neglected cookbook to be put to work, and also for some actual cooking to take place in my very neglected kitchen. My pots and pans will be pleased to know I’m getting back in the kitchen like a 1950s housewife whose husband works faaaar too late. The cookbook in question is the Masterchef cookbook which, as a big fan of the show and it’s hosts, seemed only right to buy so that I could turn into the next big Masterchef winner wowing John and Gregg. Well, as it turned out I looked at all the pretty pictures and then had a peek at the ingredients and instructions and got rather intimidated. This book isn’t for beginners, and even for someone comfortable in the kitchen spatchcocking a chicken or proving some fresh bread, it can be a little overwhelming. This isn’t a criticism of the book at all, I watch Masterchef religiously, know what’s involved and that the recipes are complex and difficult, but seeing it all in print makes it very clear how much effort the contestants put in. Just in case seeing them getting shouted at by professional chefs and sweating in a Thai kitchen didn’t give it away! But if the Olympic athletes have taught me anything, its that if you want to be the best, you’ve got to push yourself and make life a little harder, so on Sunday I finally gave the book a go and cooked a lovely little meal for The Boyfriend, making the starter from this book. I chose crispy lime and ginger prawns which admittedly is one of the easier recipes from the book but every Masterchef has to start somewhere! Word of warning about prawns by the way. I love them, but since learning about deveining prawns, I’m much more picky about them. Next time you’re about to eat a king prawn, take a look for the black line running down its back. Word up, that’s its digestive tract, so essentially that is prawn faeces. Get a knife, run it down the back of the prawn and remove it,because while it’s probably harmless, you really don’t want to eat that shit. I’m not sure all restaurants remove it as it is quite fiddly work, but now I know what that black line is I won’t touch a non deveined one. So now you know, sorry if I’ve ruined prawns for you, but an educated foodie is one that doesn’t eat crap.
My (deveined) prawns were marinated in some lime juice and spice then coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs flavoured with lime zest and coriander. Smelt amazing. Then I fried them in hot oil until crispy and dished up with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. They were full of zingy Thai tastes, with a little bit of crunch, although I did mess the coating up by coating the prawns all in one go rather than doing them one at a time. The crunchy coating clumped up and a lot was left in the frying pan. The difference that taking a bit more time would have made shows the huge gap between a home cook and a Masterchef, a lesson I have definitely learnt from and will improve upon next time. And there will be a next time, because they were gorgeous even with a clumpy coating, and The Boyfriend is obsessed with prawns in pretty much any guise. Plus, what can I say about the beauty of sweet chilli dipping sauce that hasn’t already been said by a million dippers around the world?
Last night I also cooked Cypriot stuffed chicken from Jamie Oliver’s (can’t be cooked in) 30 Minute Meals. This was also very yummy, with moist chicken and a tangy stuffing made from herbs, sun dried tomatoes and feta. I served it with The Boyfriends legendary dauphinoise potatoes and some asparagus and tomatoes, which with the exception of the tomatoes which I don’t particularly care for, was lovely. While not perfect (not sure how well sharp sun dried tomatoes and feta really go with creamy dauphinoise) it was still very pleasing and didn’t leave either of us feeling bloated, heavy or guilty. While altogether the meal wasn’t too fiddly or time consuming, it does use quite a lot of kitchen utensils. Not a problem for me as the highlight of spending time cooking a good meal means I don’t have to wash up. Suddenly my passion for cooking becomes a lot clearer to those puzzled by my enthusiasm! My mission to become an amazing cook continues, I will try to push myself a bit more in the kitchen and not always take the easy route. I predict a few disasters, but just because you stumble, doesn’t mean you have to fall. Blame London 2012 for all these motivational cliches.