Thursday, 7 February 2013

Spicy Noodle Soup Packed with Greens

So I started my week with a cough, which has slowly but surely evolved in to the mother of all colds. Needless to say I’m desperate for a little R&R. What with copious amounts of shorthand practice and court visits filling my time (for those of you who weren't sure I’m a trainee journalist rather then a criminal), rest and relaxation days have been few and far between, but thankfully I have found solace in food, and particularly soup. 

This soup is perfect for those needing a good dose of vitamins to ward off all those winter nasties, the addition of the noodles saving this meal from becoming too health conscience. Add as much ginger and sweet chilli sauce as you like, and be sure to add more if you, like me, want to blast away a cold. 

This dish is also stupidly quick to put together, all the more important when you feel like your head’s going to explode...

Serves 1
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
half red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 thumb ginger, peeled and finely chopped
handful of sugar snap peas
1 spring onion, sliced
handful of bean sprouts
two leaves of pak choi
straight to wok noodles for one
a bowls worth of chicken or vegetable stock
tsp malt vinegar
slosh of soy sauce 
1 to 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (depending on taste)
large pinch of sugar
finely sliced cucumber, to serve
coriander leaves, to serve
  1. Warm up the stock and add the vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and sugar. Keep on a low heat whilst you prepare the greens.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, add the noodles and toss for 1 minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and toss for a further minute. You want the veg slightly charred but still crunchy. 
  3. Put the veg and noodles in the bowl and pour over the stock. Serve with a sprinkling of coriander and scatter of sliced cucumber.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Smoked Salmon Parcels with Cucumber Ribbons and Melba Toast

The inspiration for this recipe was a Christmas present, the salmon being the ‘parcel’ and the cucumber strips the ‘ribbons’. Quite rich and very spoily, it made the perfect starter to our Christmas Day feast, and was terribly simple to make too, allowing for optimum present opening time. None of the flavours overpower the salmon, instead complimenting one another, and it looks suitably celebratory on the plate. With Valentine’s Day coming up there really is no excuse not to make this starter, perhaps in heart shaped moulds.

Serves 6
700g high quality smoked salmon slices 
300g creme fraiche
100g cream cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fennel
1tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
fresh dill, finely chopped, plus sprigs to decorate
1 lemon, cut into quarters
olive oil, to grease the ramekins
5 slices of white bread
1 cucumber, peeled into ribbons
  1. Whizz 200g smoked salmon in a food processor briefly, so that it remains bitty and hasn’t turned to mush. Add the creme fraiche, cream cheese, and whizz briefly again.
  2. Put into a bowl and add the fennel, sugar, lemon juice, chopped dill (to taste), salt and pepper.
  3. Grease 6 ramekins (which can hold about 100ml of water) with the oil, then line with the remaining salmon.
  4. Spoon in the mixture, and then seal by turning over the edges of the salmon, and adding a further piece to ensure there are no gaps.
  5. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.
  6. To serve, turn out on to plates (they should come out with a little coaxing using a knife), and surround with the cucumber ribbons. Add a dill garnish to the top, and scatter around, and add the lemon quarters. Serve with the melba toasts.
To make the melba toast, toast sliced bread in a toaster, then when it pops up immediately slice the toast again and cut off the crusts. Place in the oven, middle, non toasted side up, and leave until the toast starts to curl and brown. This will take about half an hour, but keep an eye on it!! Carefully remove, and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. 

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