Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kitchen Diary #9 Spicy Soup for Soggy Saturdays

The weather has been cold and wet rather a lot over Christmas and New Year and coupled with having a niggling cold that has dulled my sense of taste the most appealing food I can offer right now is a spiced up chicken and noodle soup. The 'spice' came from a jar of Laksa paste which you can find in quite a few supermarkets and I quite like the Malay Taste brand though I use far less than they suggest on the jar. I am not going to even try and write this out as a recipe as I didn't measure anything while I made it. With apologies to Laksa purists the gist of the soup is:

Chicken stock about 2/3 of total liquid
Low fat coconut milk about 1/3 of total liquid
Some cooked chicken meat torn into spoon size pieces
Laksa paste
Cooked rice noodles or buckwheat noodles
A vegetable - I just used frozen sweetcorn but pak choi is good or beansprouts
Lime juice
Basil or coriander leaf

Cook the noodles first until just done then drain.
Put about a teaspoon of laksa paste per person into a saucepan and gently fry the paste.
Add in the chicken stock and the chicken meat and bring up to a simmer.
Add the vegetable and cook until just done.
Add the noodles and heat through quickly.
Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer.
Add lime juice to taste (about half a lime for 2 people).
Serve immediately into deep bowls and garnish with herbs and serve extra chilli flakes on the side.

Tomorrow the Christmas tree and decorations will be taken down and put away so here is a last glimpse of some of my favourite ornaments:
This cheeky baby dragon glass bauble came for Krakow and by some miracle survived the journey home to the UK.
The jester was bought over 20 years ago in Germany.
This glass bauble is hand blown by a local craftsman Malcolm Sutcliffe, they have a fabulous range which can be bought online.
Some of the ingredients associated with Christmas baking are jewels in their own way and I love these candied clementines which get added to various fruited breads and cakes
This is a cardamom fruited loaf which makes a tasty Christmas breakfast with good coffee.
I didn't get the fruit so evenly distributed mind.
This heavily fruited pull apart loaf is my alternative to the traditional mince pie. I make a fairly traditional mincemeat, but without any suet, and then incorporate loads of it into an enriched dough. Small balls of the fruited dough are then assembled in a loaf pan and baked. It 'pulls apart' readily once cooled but still looks like a loaf.
After several days of festive food the simple things start to appeal and this breakfast of 'Drambuie' porridge is one of my favourite winter weekend breakfasts. We were first served this many years ago at a hotel in the Lake District and it has remained a firm favourite ever since. Make your porridge as normal and serve, then pour over a good slurp of Drambuie. My formula for porridge is one cup porridge oats (not jumbo) one cup milk, one cup water, pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Cook all that until the porridge turns volcanic and gloopy!. Pour into warmed bowls and serve with milk/cream, Drambuie and extra sugar if you like.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the gloomy weather my thoughts have turned to planning next summer's vegetable patch and I was delighted to receive some seeds only a couple of days after ordering from Somerset company  Pennard Plants. They specialize in heritage varieties and the seed packets are just gorgeous.
I was particularly delighted to find they sell chervil root seeds.
My chickens are looking forward to sampling the lettuce mix too.
And if I can keep the frosts out of the conservatory I may even get to sample some home grown kumquats.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from a very wet North Devon!

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