Tag Archives: Thai curry

Disappointment In The Kitchen

The trouble with celebrity chefs is that you just can’t help but trust them. Food is their livelihood, they’ve studied it, worked with it for years and put in the hours working their way up from the bottom of the kitchen to become head chef and subsequently, a star. Of course you’d believe them when they tell you japchae isn’t hard to find outside of Chinatown, or that cooking a three course meal really can be the work of a mere half hour. What have they got to gain from deceiving you (besides millions of books sold, great ratings on the telly and a three month wait for a table at their exclusive restaurant)? They tell you this information purely out of the goodness of their own heart, to share the knowledge and make you at home a better cook. As you may know from Jamie Oliver and Quail Egg-gate, I take umbrage to chefs embellishing the truth. Jamie has been forgiven for his many lies but it didn’t take long for a new fibber to come to the forefront: step forward Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon and I have a chequered past as it is, what with him once being my weird crush until he was on TV ALL. THE. TIME and I gradually lost interest. There’s only so much shouting at morons I can take before it becomes tedious. I only became interested again (strictly in the cooking sense) when his back to basics cooking show ‘100 Recipes To Stake Your Life On’ started last year and the tasty looking recipes combined with Gordon’s rather inappropriate feelings towards food had me hooked. The few recipes I’ve cooked from the accompanying book I’ve had mixed feelings about. There is nothing wrong with the finished meals, they are simple, tasty and produce a satisfying dinner. They just aren’t anything special. Maybe I have too high standards, perhaps I want too much from Gordon and have ridiculous expectations to be blown away by every recipe. But then when I cook, say, satay chicken from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, or massamann curry from Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic, or chicken schnitzel from Nigella Express, I am blown away because they taste so delicious and addictive. I remember them, cook them again and The Boyfriend also likes them. They’re hits and all I’ve done is followed a recipe and put my faith in the authors. So yes, maybe I do have high standards but other chefs meet them. I like recipes that really pack a punch, whether that be spicy, salty, sweet or sour. In middle school I had a teacher who would not tolerate the word ‘nice’. She said it meant nothing and was an insult. I didn’t understand it then but now I completely get it. If you said to me that someone was nice, I’d assume that while perfectly pleasant, that person did not put across anything memorable or interesting about them self which would require a better adjective used to describe them. Nice is forgettable. Nice food does its job but in the end it’s forgotten. Much like how my friends and family are so much more than simply ‘nice’ (they’re kind, funny, witty, sharp, interesting, clever, charming, intelligent, enthusiastic, savvy, sweet, generous.. see how much more complimentary these words are than ‘nice’?) the food I like to cook and eat also needs to be so much more.

So Gordon already had his work cut out to try and please me with his recipes. I chose to make pork neck curry with mango salsa from his book ‘Cookery Course’ which accompanied the ‘100 Recipes’ TV show because he writes in the book that this is his favourite curry of all time. For a chef to make such a statement about a recipe makes me pay attention. He must have eaten and cooked loads of curries so if this is The Best then I am cooking it. Like I said earlier, the trouble with chefs is that you can’t help but trust them. It’s a Thai recipe, so I made a paste and assembled the curry and the house was filled with a delicious spicy aroma. Normally when I make Thai curries I reduce the sauce down a little so the curry is a little thicker and less watery, but this was quite tricky to do, possibly because of Gordon’s insistence on adding loads of stock. The pork itself was super soft after bubbling away in the curry for an hour and the sauce was spicy with plenty of flavour. However, it just didn’t have that wow factor whilst the sauce was too thin. For a mid week meal it would be perfectly acceptable but what with it being a Friday night dinner, I was a little disappointed. It makes me question Gordons judgement on food that he thinks this is the best curry he’s ever eaten. Whilst I don’t think you can ever really recreate authentic Indian curries at home, Thai curries are a little easier to replicate and taste fantastic made in your own kitchen. If you want an amazing home cooked curry, you’d be better off trying Gizzi Erskine’s lamb massamann or her green curry paste. These pack serious flavour and I find myself cooking them again and again. I’ll continue to use Gordon’s book as the recipes are nice and they beat chicken nuggets for dinner, but when it comes to weekend cooking and packing a punch, Gordon’s not the right chef for me.

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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in Books, Cooking, Food, Thai


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Slow Cooker Dependency

So we’ve only gone and bloody done it. Not content with central heating, dust free bedrooms and fully functional kitchens, The Boyfriend and I have bitten the bullet and moved out of our rented, cosy flat and into our half finished house. Don’t get me wrong, I love the house and once all the work has been done to it I truly believe it will look beautiful and be our dream home, but right now its a mess and our bedroom is the only room that is practically done. I’m a big girl though and can see the end result, so living in a dust pit will be worth it. There is only one mental hurdle that I have to overcome and that is that right now we have no cooker or hob. And probably won’t for a few more weeks. Yes, that’s right, no baking, no roasting, no grilling, and worst of all, no lasagna. It’s my very worst nightmares all rolled into one and realised. So what’s a cookbook dependent and baking obsessed girl to do? Well after the initial panic and fears of starvation I gradually came to my senses and remembered that I own a slow cooker, a George Foreman grill and a microwave. So you won’t be seeing Lenny Henry putting out an appeal for me on the upcoming Comic Relief night, don’t panic. All this means that I just have to be a bit more creative and resourceful with food and think up new ways of cooking my favourite meals. Last night I made a red Thai curry in the slow cooker instead of on the hob and it tasted absolutely perfect with slow cooked beef that just fell apart the minute I bit into it. I’m hoping my chilli tastes just as good out of the slow cooker as it does cooked in a saucepan, but only time will tell. Obviously a lot of foods are now impossible to cook, such as spaghetti, eggs and big joints of roasting meat, but this just means I have to try more new things and challenge myself to adapt recipes. I’m trying to see this situation as a positive despite not being able to bake. For example, instead of baking cakes and cookies, I can make mousses and chilled cheesecakes, neither of which require an oven. Pinterest has also been an absolute saviour, giving me tonnes of ideas and a possible recipe for slow cooker lasagna. There’s still hope for me yet. Obviously with all of the moving and decorating I’ve not had a lot of time to cook anything experimental or new from the cookbooks but I hope to rectify this in the coming weeks.

In other Neglected Cookbook news, I’ve joined Foodie Penpals which sounds amazing and right up my foodie street. What is Foodie Penpals? I’m so glad you asked! Basically, you sign up to Foodie Penpals (please click the button on the right of the page to go to it) and once a month you’re given the contact details of someone else who has signed up. You contact them and ask what sort of food stuff their into and you then send them a parcel of foodie goodies which they then blog about. Meanwhile, someone else has been allocated you and you tell them what you like and you then get a parcel in the post which you then blog about. I can’t think of anything that is more up my street than that. It should hopefully be a great way to try new foods, read new blogs and chat with like minded people. I’m very conscious of the fact that if you get me talking about food I could be there all day and that’s boring if you’re not as obsessed as me, so I try to reign it in a little, but Foodie Penpals seems like a great outlet for that, and suits my culinary geekiness to the ground. If you want to give it a go make sure you sign up to the right website as
there is a USA one and a European one. The links should all be on the Foodie Penpal button on the toolbar on the right of this blog.
I’m now thinking up ideas for the person I’m sending to, and can’t wait to see what I get sent. Hopefully I should be back soon with some tasty new meals and recipes to blog about.

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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Books, Cooking


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