Tag Archives: Dip

Asian Salad & Tempura

21st May 2013

When I’ve had a naughty day at work like today (snacking constantly on wine gums and chocolate) I want to make something healthy for dinner.  The thing is, I often can’t face proper ‘health food’, as it just doesn’t seem like enough of an incentive to get in to the kitchen and cook.

This salad is an ideal compromise – lots of vegetables, but a bit of batter thrown in for that indulgent kick.  The best thing about it is that making the tempura is really fun.  So it’s a nice wind down activity as well.  I think it would be great to serve for a summer dinner party, you’d just have to make sure to get all the prep done first and the timing of the tempura right.

For the salad:

Finely chop spring onions and carrots, and quarter some tomatoes.

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While you’ve got the veg board out, dice a couple of cloves of garlic and a bit of ginger (for the dressing).  Cut a lime in half and roughly chop some mint.

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Mix up the dressing in a jug/bowl/mug… whatever’s handy.  These are the ingredients – don’t worry about exact measurements, taste it when you’re done and see if any little adjustments are needed.

  • Juice from the lime (no pips please)
  • The chopped garlic and ginger
  • Couple of tablespoons fish sauce
  • Couple of tablespoons soy sauce
  • One tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  • One tablespoon of sugar

Throw in some fresh chilli if you like it spicy.

Place a generous handful of the carrot, spring onions and tomatoes on a bed of crispy salad leaves on each plate you’re serving up.  Sprinkle with some mint.  You can probably get 3 good servings from these quantities (or starter sizes for 6).

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Put those to one side somewhere cool, and whip up your batter.  This is really easy – whisk together 100g of plain floor, a pinch of salt, an egg yolk, a teaspoon of baking powder and 150ml sparkling water.

It should end up looking something like this…

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Now the fun part!  The next couple of steps need to happen fairly quickly, so it’s helpful if you have someone around to join in.  You can slow it down a bit if you’ve got a hot plate or an Aga to keep the tempura warm on, but they’re really best served as fresh as possible.

You can use this batter for anything – meat, veg, even cheese (yes, I tried it!).

For this salad, I did a mixture of prawns and chicken.  Heat up 1/3 of a pan of vegetable oil or similar.  It’s ready when you chuck a crumb of bread in and it sizzles.  PLEASE be careful, hot oil is very dangerous.  Do not flick any water into the pan by accident.

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Use two forks to dip the prawns and chicken (bite size pieces) into the batter, and then cook in the oil for 1-2 minutes.  When they’re golden, lift them out of the oil (carefully, again) and place them on a plate covered with kitchen towel.  Work through them in batches of 5 or 6 at a time – if you do too many the oil will cool down and they’ll get soggy.

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About half way through cooking the tempura, put a packet of fresh white noodles in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and zap them in the microwave for a minute (I know.. cheating..).

You can start arranging and serving your salads while your lovely assistant finishes the rest of the tempura.  This way the batter should still be hot and crispy, the noodles warm, and the salad zingy.

I placed noodles around the outside of the leaves and then put the tempura on top of the noodles in a ring.  

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Pour some dressing evenly over the leaves, tempura and noodles.  You can see the bits of garlic and ginger, which are slightly softened after marinading.

And it’s ready!  A guilt free, treat of a salad.

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And if you didn’t eat your body weight in wine gums today, enjoy the extra tempura with some sweet chilli sauce or any other dip that takes your fancy.

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The Great Outdoors

14th May 2013

Eating food outside is almost guaranteed to make it taste better.  If you live in London, sunshine cannot be taken for granted, but the Great Outdoors can feel a little far out of reach.

The obvious compromise? Head to Hyde Park.  Pack up a picnic along the way, spread your blanket (oversized scarf) on the grass, and settle in with music and trashy magazines.

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The picnic food Mecca is Whole Foods, on Kensington High Street.  Three reasons why:

  1. They have a cheese ROOM
  2. Fresh bread, pastries, salsa, salads, cakes… the list goes on
  3. It’s a five minute walk from the park

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I walk around Whole Foods with barely disguised glee – if you want fancy crisps, drinks, olives, anything really – do yourself a favour and drop in.  K and I tried to be restrained but still ended up with a generous selection of course.

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The olive bar…

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Selection of breads – caramelised onion and goats cheese is nearest the front.

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This was a little out of date but I love the picture so I’ve included it anyway!

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This is what we ate – Courgette and Broccoli Salad with Sesame Seeds, Tomato Salsa, Olives, Focaccia (with Tomato and Herbs), Dip Society ‘Arti-Thyme’ Dip, Guacamole, Korean Chilli Rice Crackers, and Manomasa Chipotle & Lime Tortilla Chips.

Washed down with Firefly Orange and Passionfruit drink.

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These tortilla chips are amazing – you have to try them.

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The most more-ish snack in the world – the chilli rice cracker.  They go perfectly with a G&T if you fancy it.

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K had these Jawbone Jambox speakers with her, which are very loud for their size, and in a snazzy shade of blue.  I want some!

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We listened to Flight Facilities, flicked through magazines, and soaked up as much Vitamin D as possible.  It was perfect.

Bring back the sun! (Please?)

The BBQ

9th May 2013

The first Barbecue of the year.  There’s something magical about it, especially on a summery bank holiday weekend.

I went home to Buckinghamshire and while I cannot claim to be responsible for all of the beautiful food we had (thanks family!), I can share it with you.

 Get things kicked off with Pimms – lots of strawberries, apple, cucumber and mint.4

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My ultimate favourite (which I intend to blog about separately) comes next.  Hot crab dip is great to snack on while you prepare the rest of the food and get the barbie heated up.  Salty tortilla chips and cucumber sticks are perfect for dipping.

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The choices for the grill were – monkfish, chicken, sausages and steak.  So we sloshed together a marinade for the monkfish.  It’s made of olive oil, lime juice, coriander, and fresh chilli.

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The fish then gets popped into the marinade and left to soak up all the lovely flavours before cooking.

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Apply butter and garlic generously to some large Portobello mushrooms, which can be cooked up on the BBQ as well!

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There are always lots of pretty flowers dotted around the kitchen at home – I liked these tulips especially.

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Chop up tomatoes and spring onions to make a simple salad.

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Here’s another salad – leaves, peppers and feta cheese.

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Buy some ready to bake garlic bread from a supermarket, and serve it up when the meat and fish is sizzling on the grill.

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Now, I’m told by a barbeque expert I know (that’s you Daddy!), that perfect results are all about the timing.  Everything being cooked on the grill needs to be added in the right order to ensure it’s all ready at the same time.  For example, sausages take a lot longer to cook than fish.

Luckily, the responsibility for this task was not in my hands, but the hands of the expert.  And look how well it all turned out!  We just had to carve and dig in…

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Gorgeous fillet of beef, rare in the middle…

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And the chicken, and sausages, and of course the mushrooms.

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By the time we’d finished eating the sun was setting.

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We gave ourselves a little break and then it was pudding.

The colours of the berries matched the sky outside.

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My very clever mother had made this amazing chocolate cheesecake!

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All in all, a delicious evening.

Final thought for the day:

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