Satay sauce

I have to start with an apology to my past, present and future sex providers. When I think I’ve died and gone to heaven it’s always because I’ve eaten this sauce. Sorry about that.

Ingredients

200-250g crunchy peanut butter
150g palm sugar
tamarind concentrate mixed with water
5 finely chopped red chillies
5 finely chopped cloves garlic
1 large can coconut milk thoroughly shaken
a little grape seed oil

Method

Fry the garlic in the oil gently until becoming golden. Add the chillies and the sugar, followed by the peanut butter and the tamarind. Mix thoroughly and then add the coconut milk. Cook, stirring, until the oil is separating from the mix

Cool and store in fridge in screwtop jars. Stephanie Alexander says this lasts for months, but I wouldn’t know. I’m lucky if I can make it last til dinner time.

My guess is about a tablesp of the tamarind with about 4 tblsps of water.

Stephanie Alexander does this with peanuts, which is my preference if I have them. She says brown sugar or palm. I love palm sugar and always use it. She also says to take tamarind pulp, soak it, extract the juice. I happened to have the concentrate and it seems okay to me, but in the past I’ve used the extraction method. Her recommendation is peanut oil for the frying, but I used grapeseed because it was in the cupboard and it has a neutral flavour.

Stephanie Alexander gives this in conjunction with a recipe for a marinade for the meat to go with it. Of course a famous way to use this sauce is as the star of gadogado. Today for lunch we are having a very simple version of that. A few raw vegetables, a little fried tofu. Some rice on the side.

 

 

 

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Poached chicken salad

Personally, I’d rather chew my own arm off than eat chicken breasts that other people have cooked. It is almost never the appropriate cut of chicken to use, tasteless with a bad texture.

But. IF you cook it properly. Maybe…

So, you must poach the chicken extremely lightly, to just undercooked…it will finish cooking as it cools. Something like a little water – maybe an inch, no more – in the pan with a dash of soy and sesame oil and a slice of ginger. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the breasts, cover pan and simmer for maybe a couple of minutes before turning so that the top is now in the liquid. Another couple of minutes and let it sit and cool in this liquid.

Slice.

Destem baby leaf spinach.

Mix the chicken and spinach with this divine dressing:

Plain yoghurt
Some sort of jam – peach, maybe apricot. It can be that crappy French jam which proudly announces it has no sugar in it. I mean honestly. Jam is ALL sugar. You bought this accidentally, or someone ignorant gave it to you…it’s dreadful stuff on its own, but perfectly useful in this dish.
Good quality white wine vinegar
Green tomato chutney – this I make myself and I will post the recipe.

Fresh bread on the side.

A perfect summer lunch.

Duck Salad

Really just a variant on poached chicken salad….

I started with left over boned roast duck. Remove the skin/fat, slice into bite-sized strips.

Walnuts, toasted and chopped, each half into two or three slivers.

Apple, thinly sliced. I would have used white grapes if I’d had some to hand.

Spinach, stemmed, washed and chopped.

Dressing:

plain yoghurt
mango/apricot chutney*
white wine vinegar
tomato paste*
salt and pepper

*I would have preferred to use a jam and a green tomato chutney, but I can’t find anything like the latter here in Geneva and my own home made is a million miles away.

Mix all these various things together. Serve.

Baba Ghanouj

We took a picnic lunch on a boat cruise recently, including various carefully-made-by-my-own-hands dishes. The Baba Ghanouj, however, was not one of them. The difference between making it yourself and not, really is worth the trouble. This is my preferred method.

Ingredients from Greg Malouf, part of the incredible dynasty in Melbourne that has taken Lebanese cuisine to fanciful heights while never forgetting its roots.

2 large eggplants
1/2 clove garlic
Salt
3 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon – to taste, at any rate
200g yoghurt

I try to pick eggplants that aren’t too fat as you want to cook them right through. There is no point even thinking about making this dish unless you have gas hotplates – and gas hotplates you are willing to ruin. You may wish to try putting alfoil around the rings. I’ve never found that helps. A charcoal or wood bbq would also do. NOT one of those oven-outdoors-bbqs.

Get a long metal kebab skewer, one for each eggplant and, well, skewer the buggers. Adjust heat on the gas hotplates so that the flames are the right size for the eggplants. You are going to stand and guard these…turn and turn and turn. You want the flesh to collapse, so that the eggplants are all but falling off the skewers, the skin will be blistered and burnt.

Remove, put on a cake cooling wire and then in a plastic bag. You want to collect juices as it sweats which you will discard.

Take the eggplant out of the bag and take off the skin with a knife or fingers. A recipe might urge you that the least bit of charred skin will ruin the end dish, but I don’t think that is true.

Chop the eggplant rather than puree it, you want it to be a little ‘chunky’, not machine made smooth.

Now you can do one of two things:

(1) Add the other ingredients. Put in fridge until you are eating…

(2) Divide into portions. I like to use some of the eggplant for b.g. and use some for other things. Eg kheema – a fantastic way to flavour kheema. And I make it part of a spaghetti sauce. I imagine there are innumerable great things you could do with it.

On flavouring with garlic and lemon. The usual holds: you can add these things but you can’t subtract, so do it slowly, tasting along the way. You know that thing computer scientists do? They look like they are just having fun but they have their excuse all ready ‘compiling’. Well, you get to do that in the kitchen? Eating? Pigging out? No way. Just testing. I noticed a really lovely way of describing what garlic and lemon are to this dish at The Food Blog… as part of the ‘perfect’ baba ghanouj recipe, different from this one, by the way.

And the juice of half a lemon to give some fire
But remember that lemon juice is only there
To compliment the creaminess of the tahini affair
The taste of lemon juice should not be intrusive
Its existence must remain elusive
Crush a bit of garlic with a teaspoon of salt
Before you use too much, you really must halt
In the same way the lemon’s used discretely
The garlic’s existence should almost completely
Be hidden, it’s there just to balance the fruit
A heavy hand and garlic turns into a brute

Chicken salad

Chicken salad for two

One of those things that tastes good and is good for you.
I imagine omitting the chicken would make a nice vegetarian option. You could add nuts to make it a bit more substantial.

Ingredients

sliced chicken – I had a chicken in the fridge which had been steamed Chinese style, so I used the breasts.
baby leaf spinach
fennel bulb trimmed and shaved
red seedless grapes – nice for the colour, but green would do
half a pear, peeled, cored and sliced

Dressing: mix together
1/2 a cup of plain yoghurt
dessertspoon of Dijon mustard
dessertspoon of chilli jam

Toss through the salad and serve.

Salad days…if only we had summer days to go with them.

Here in Geneva we are having the worst summer since 1965. I don’t know how that is measured, but it’s bucketing down outside as I write. But as long as you stay indoors picnic food is still possible. Supposing it were summer, one of the prerequisites, as any good Australian knows, is food that doesn’t involve a lot of heating up the kitchen. We’ve been eating this a lot lately.

Rocket, avocado and smoked salmon salad

Toss stemmed rocket, sliced smoked salmon and avocado with a dressing of olive oil, Japanese rice vinegar and a dash of sesame oil. Sprinkle toasted and slightly crushed* sesame seeds on top. You can tart it up with a sharper vinegar or lemon/lime juice if you prefer. Spinach does, though I prefer the gutsier taste of rocket.

Rocket, smoked salmon, avocado salad
Rocket, smoked salmon, avocado salad

*This is where a pestle and mortar comes in handy. It’s hard to use a grinder for this task without overkill. A proper pestle and mortar, mind, not one of those little things with no weight to it.

A Madhur Jaffrey salsa

Salsa

A cup of tomatoes diced
half a cup of onions finely chopped – I use spring onions at the moment
a square inch or so of ginger peeled and finely diced
a bunch of coriander chopped
finely chopped chilli – one is about right
half an avocado diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice (I used lime today)
salt to taste
cayenne to taste
1 teasp roasted cumin

Mix. Serves 2-4, she suggests.

Jaffrey serves this with paneer. We tried that for lunch today, I made the paneer yesterday. We’ve also had it with crumbed lamb cutlets. It’s good! I imagine adding cucumber wouldn’t hurt.