My friend Nicole’s visit was sadly cut short by one day when she realized yesterday afternoon that she was off to Greece a whole 24 hours earlier than she originally thought. It was a pleasure entertaining her at our new home and exploring a new island while she was here.

We visited tiny Koh Si Chang last weekend. It was the ideal weekend getaway, only 3-4 hours travel by boat and bus, not at all frequented by loads of tourists, fresh seafood and and a perfectly relaxed island atmosphere. My highlight food wise was the fried squid and cashew nut. A satisfying mixture of sweet and salty flavors and chewy and crunchy textures!

Monday night we finally got around to Suan Lum night bazaar near Lumphini Park. After finding out how to dodge the tacky tourist stalls we all left with new wardrobe items- a new T and funky work shirt for Alexander, a fall jacket for Nic and a T-shirt for myself.

We traveled by public boats on the klong (Bangkok’s canals) to Banglamphu on Tuesday, where we had yet another pleasing and inexpensive meal at Roti Mataba and browsed around the stores and shops on Phra Athit.

For great pictures and some more about the past week, Alexander photographed and documented our trip to Koh Si Chang and Roti Mataba.

On to cooking. We planned to go out hunting for a mythical Ethiopian restaurant last night and then I would have cooked for Nic tonight, but we had to change our plans a bit and so I decided to cook last night before she left. I had been planning a bit of a menu throughout the day, so i just had to pick up a couple of items from the store and I was ready to start dinner.

Unfortunately for me we got hit by an enormous storm last night and preparing dinner did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. Having the kitchen on the open balcony meant that the wind kept on dumping buckets of rain over everything and I had to wait until it was less windy before I could do anything. But finally I did manage to get the cooking done, even though I still got a bit wet.

Our dinner consisted of a grilled tofu salad with cashew and cilantro pesto (my own creations!) and chicken kebabs on lemon grass skewers with a satay sauce. For dessert we had ice cream with crushed sesame and peanut brittle.

It all came out lovely, even if I have to say so myself.

Grilled Marinated Tofu Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Cilantro and Cashew Nut Pesto

There are kind of two recipes falling under the heading of this salad, first the tofu then pesto. In the end they all contribute to one salad. I’ll try not to make it too confusing.

Gather around:

a block of firm tofu

6 red cherry tomatoes

For the marinade:

juice of one lime

fish sauce

soft brown sugar

green lettuce leaves for garnish

For the pesto:

a handful of cashewnuts

3 small garlic cloves, minced

a bunch of fresh cilantro

olive oil

Make:

Slice the tofu into about .1 inch thick slices.

For the marinade- mix the lime juice, a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of fish sauce in a bowl or container (I believe it should be non-metallic) put the slices of tofu and toss to coat. Cover and refrigarate for about an hour.

While you are marinating the tofu, start on the pesto.

Put the cashew nuts, garlic and cilantro into a blender or food processor and chop lightly. Add a tablespoonful or so of olive oil and blend just a little more so you have a chunky pesto. Note that I made this on a whim and therefore did not take correct measurements into calculation. I just went with what I hoped would work and it came out pretty good.

Line a platter (or in our case a plate) with the lettuce leaves and slice the cherry tomatoes into rounds and set aside.

Remove the tofu from the fridge after an hour and grill quickly over low heat in a griddle pan, a couple of seconds on each side. Place the grilled tofu on a bed of lettuce, put one or two slices of the tomato on the tofu and top it off with a little pesto on each slice.

Not only did it look pretty, it was also very tasty and light.

Chicken Kebabs on Lemon Grass Skewers

This turned out to be a very easy dish, much easier than my first attempt using minced pork.

Collect:

500g chicken mince

1 long red chili

3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to fit into a pan and halved lenghtwise

sesame oil

Make:

Seed the chili and thoroughly mince it. Mix the chili in with the chicken mince until it is well combined. Shape the chicken into 6 balls and place it on a cutting board, flatten the balls slightly and place the lemon grass stalks onto the balls, the chicken should be about at the middle of the stalks. Fold the chicken over the stalks and flatten the top slightly. Brush the chicken with some sesame oil.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan over a moderately high heat.

Put the kebabs into the pan and cook until ready to be eaten and serve on the lemon grass skewers.

What I love about this dish is that it is super simple and tasty, the meat really gets infused with the fragrant lemon grass.

Ice Cream with Chopped Peanut and Sesame Brittle

This dessert is really easy to make but tasted quite yummy. Sadly the ice cream was very soft, I tried to find a ‘harder’ ice cream at the grocer, but for some reason they were all really soft and not even my freezer helped.

You’ll need:

vanilla ice cream

peanut and sesame brittle

Make:

Break bits of the brittle off and throw it into a food processor or blender. Chop until fine but still a little chunky. Mix about 3/4 this with the ice cream and serve, sprinkled with the rest of the chopped brittle.

Yum.

Suggestions:

– adjust to your liking, add or subtract a bit here and there, have fun.