January 2008


I grabbed what was lying around in the fridge last night and tried to make something like a thom khaa kai, it translates as boiled galangal chicken and is used to describe a milder coconut-y sour soup. Mine was less soupy and more like a kind of stew, but it was still tasty, blending some lovely Thai flavors in a creamy-dreamy coconut dish.

To make my version of TKK you need to round up:

1 chicken breast- sliced

4 slices galangal

1 stalk lemon grass chopped into 1 inch pieces

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 small green chili, chopped

3 shiitake mushrooms

6 cherry tomatoes

2 spring onions- whites slices into 1 inchpieces

some sliced and wash banana flower

lime juice and fish sauce to taste

1 and 1/2 cups water

1 cup coconut milk

Make:

Bring the water to a boil and add the lemon grass and galangal. Cook till fragrant. Add the chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, banana flower and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is done. Add the spring onions, kaffir lime leaves and chili. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add lime juice and fish sauce to taste. Remove from the heat and serve.

I cooked some brown rice to go with the dish and sliced some kaffir lime leaves to garnish and to add a bit more flavor. The earthiness of the brown rice and the creaminess of the main dish were quite complimentary I thought.

Sugar cookies with chocolate chips and frosty vanilla iced tea. Enjoyed at the end of an otherwise bland and muggy Tuesday.

South Africa is not known as a country with a wealth of culinary delights like, say, Thailand. In fact, I’ve heard travelers complain about the food being bland. Even some guidebooks suggest that you certainly don’t visit SA for the food.

But I disagree, considering South Africa’s incredibly rich cultural heritage it only makes sense that there is a curious and exciting mix of food to be discovered by anyone looking for a good meal.

And to back-up that statement I bring you… Bobotie!

bobotie.jpg

Bobotie, (the tie pronounced like Bet-tie) is a delicious Cape Malay dish filled with flavors, fragrances and textures and anybody calling bobotie dull has no taste buds. This dish brings together the fruity sweetness and vinegary tart of fruit chutney, the sexiness of cinnamon, and the spiced-goodness of curry and turmeric. Biting into bobotie you go through a layer of crisp glaze, followed by egg custard before finally getting to the richly flavored meat. Mmm.

There are quite a number of bobotie recipes out there, but they all combine basically the same ingredients; meat, bread, milk, eggs, onions, curry, turmeric, and fruit chutney. My version of bobotie actually does not make use of fruit chutney, I use apricot jam instead and add just a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice for the tart flavor.

The best thing to do when making this most certainly non-bland South African dish is to experiment until you find the right balance of flavors for your tastes. This is what I usually do when I make bobotie. So I’m leaving you with more of a guideline than a recipe, the rest will be up to you.

Find:

500g ground beef

1 chopped onion

1 slice bread- white or brown

1 cup milk

2 eggs

turmeric

curry powder

bay leave

pepper

salt

sugar

chutney or apricot jam

vinegar or lemon juice

olive oil

Make:

Preheat your oven to about 180C and prepare a deep oven dish. Soak the slice of bread in the cup of milk. Heat the oil and add the curry powder and turmeric and then the onion. Add the beef and brown. When the beef is browned, mix in the chutney or jam, a little vinegar, and sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Take the slice of white bread and squeeze out all the milk, keep the milk as you will use it for the glaze and custard. Crumble the bread into the meat mixture and pour all of this into your oven dish, push a bay leave into the top. Bake for about an hour, until everything has set.

For the glazy-custardy part you mix the eggs with the milk and pour this on over the meat about thirty minutes before it’s done.

Suggestions for bobotie:

– bobotie is best served with some fragrant yellow rice, but I ‘ve used dahl and brown rice and it works just as well

– you can let your imagination run wild with adding some extras, some people add raisins, dried apricots. Almond slivers adds a lovely texture to the meat.

– make it and say to yourself “Mmm, South African know a thing or two about making a great meal!”

bobotie-and-rice.jpg

Why, it’s fabric? Six new pieces of fabric!

Early in December Alexander, a co-worker and I went to Chatuchak and I found a fabric store selling variety of beautiful pieces of cloth. I splurged on these three.

I cannot pick a favorite, I love them all and had a hard time not buying more, there were so many lovely pieces.

And then there are the fabric I got from our Christmas guest, Tim. For someone who only knew me through my blog and on Facebook he brought the perfect gift and made an excellent selection.

March is going to be full of flights, both domestic and international, and I think I’ll need a thematic bag to hold my travel documents and in-flight reading. This is just the fabric for such a bag.

Alexander claimed this piece the moment I unfolded it. I’ll have to start thinking what to make for him.

And this one says summer. Wouldn’t you agree?

I do see endless sewing possibilities in the near future!

Oh this is so intimidating. Writing an entry for an entry. My nerves are shot!

Not really, I am just being overly dramatic due to a terrible lack of sleep. I decided to take the day off to recuperate, but instead I am writing. No big surprises there really. Goodness, how I digress.

This here spanako-pizza is my entry for this month’s Hay Hay it’s Donna Day food blogging event. Joey over at 80 Breakfasts, one of my neighbors here in South East Asia (she lives in the Philippines), is hosting this month’s event and the super-theme she chose was pizza. Mmm, pizza.

Why did I name this pizza a spanako-pizza? Continue reading and find out.

I followed the Donna Hay recipe, available here on Joey’s blog. It’s real simple and renders a superb and wholesome thin-crusted pizza base.

Here’s what you need to collect for the pizza dough:

1 teaspoon dry yeast

a pinch of sugar (I use about a 1/4 teaspoon)

2/3 cup warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Make:

Place yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl and let it stand until it becomes bubbly. Be patient as this takes a while, but it looks great fun once it really starts bubbling! Meanwhile, sift together the flour and salt. When the liquid mixture is all bubbly, add it to the dry mixture and combine and kneed it into a smooth dough. This should take about 10 minutes of elbow grease. Put it into a large, oiled bowl, cover and allow to stand until it has doubled in size. This takes another while so just leave it be while you enjoy a bit of reading or begin preparing the topping.

And here follows the topping. I love spanakopitas. Those fabulous greek filo pastries filled with spinach and dill goodness, so I decided to top a pizza with it.

For spanakopita filling/topping you need:

about two cups fresh spinach, well packed

5 chopped green onions

2 tablespoons fresh dill

4 tablespoons crumbled feta

olive oil

salt

fresh pepper

Make:

Place washed spinach in a little boiling water and cook for about three minutes. Rinse and squeeze out excess water. Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the onions, spinach and dill for about another three minutes, until the onion is soft. Remove from heat and let it cool for a minute, then mix in the crumbled feta and add some salt and ground pepper to taste.

And now for the pizza:

Preheat your oven to 220C and place a flat baking tray in the oven to heat. Lightly dust a cookie sheet with some flour or semolina and roll out half of the pizza dough until it is about 3mm thick. Brush a little olive oil onto the pizza and top it with the spanakopita filling. Lift the cookie sheet onto the preheated tray and bake it for about 15 minutes or until the pizza is golden and crisp.

Slice it up and serve. Watch your guests take a bite and see the appreciative smiles forming on their faces. Delightful!

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