Phad Thai


I am an absolute sucker for thai food, I love the unique combination of flavours that they fuse together to create anything from noodles to satay’s and curries, which are all so delicious, fresh and healthy. Thai food encapsulates fusion food, combining flavours such as lemon grass, tamarind, coriander, peanuts, chilli, basil and coconut, which all work well together to create brilliant rubs and sauces for noodles and rice, to which just about any meat or veggie can be added.

Mmmmm, Phad Thai

I backpacked around Thailand a couple of years ago with two girl friends of mine, it was an amazing experience and I definitely attribute my love of thai food to this trip. My all-time favourite dish that I took away from Thailand was Phad Thai, you can literally buy Phad Thai from street vendors off the side of the road for the equivalent of about R20 a bowl, absolutely delicious and dirt cheap. I loved this dish so much that I even had a local teach me how to cook it, however the fact that neither of us could communicate in each others respective language was a slight hindrance and think may be the result of the fact that I have now attempted to make Phad Thai on 6 occasions and am yet to be successful?
I am not quite sure where I go wrong, but I think it’s somewhere between obtaining the right ingredients and the order in which I add them, my last Phad Thai turned out more like a noodle omelette, with fish sauce and tofu, fairly inedible to say the least!

Anyway, so you can imagine my delight when I came across this step-by-step guide from Aaron on how to make Phad Thai,  going to attempt this tonight, please may Mr Aaron be my Phad Thai saviour this evening…Seventh time lucky?

Click here for the recipe, and see below for some essential steps to ensure a good Phad Thai:

Ingredients

Adding the eggs to the cooked noodles – I think this is where the omelette mishap started…

So this is what is actually meant to look like…

Good luck and may you all have better Phad Thai luck than me

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Buttermilk & Stamkoring Salad


Had my parents and their friends over for a relaxed Sunday night braai, I wanted to accompany the meat with a slightly more exciting side-dish than the usual bland salad and hot dog rolls. So I turned to 101 Cookbooks – which is an amazing online recipe journal created by Heidi Swanson. Heidi focuses primarily on natural and whole foods and ingredients that are healthy and nutritious. Have a look at her website to be inspired to create yummy vegetarian foods.

101 Cookbooks presented me with an abundance of choices of unusual salads to make; the one I went with was a Buttermilk Farro Salad. Farro is a pearled barley and is the equivalent of a grain called Stamkoring that we use in SA. Its delicious and this is what I used in place of the farro. The dressing is very unusual, a vinaigrette combined with buttermilk and loads of fresh herbs. I was not convinced at first, but believe me this works, the sharpness of the vinegar combined with the sweetness of the buttermilk and herbs is delicious and also blends well with the clean veggies and stamkoring. This salad comes highly recommended, everyone loved it (even my meat-eating boyfriend!) See below for the recipe and pics…


Buttermilk Farro Salad Recipe

I used semi-pearled farro here, but you can certainly substitute whole farro, wheat berries, barley, or other plump grains. I say to serve this at room temperature, but actually, I like this salad warm, room temperature, and chilled. It’s good the day after, and for a couple days after that. Just revive with a splash of the leftover dressing.

2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
1/2 cup / 120 ml good-quality white wine vinegar
1/2 cup / 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped thyme

7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin

4 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
chopped chives for garnish

Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.

In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro grains. Add 1 cup / 240 ml of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Serves 8.

So delicious!! included one last pic below that I love. You can see my “bland” green salad in the forefront but this was a great accompaniment to the stamkoring salad. I also did Marge’s delicious, creamy potato bake as a substitute for hot-dog rolls. All went together beautifully! You have to love the onset of summer with this weather and braai’s, gets me so super excited for December holidays, woohoo!!

Apple-Baked Cheesecake


My Sunday mission was to attempt something slightly out of my comfort zone, and seeing that baking is not really my forte; I thought that I would try a Brown Sugar-Apple Baked Cheesecake (yip mouthful…)which I found on the delightful blog of Joy the Baker.
There is something about baking that  scares me, not sure if it’s the precision and rigmorale of sticking to the exact quantities and ingredients of the recipe as I love the freedom of cooking out of my head and going on taste, which is a definite taboo in the baking world! But whatever it is I think my fear was slightly quelled by my Sunday Cheesecake expedition, which actually turned out surprisingly well and was a real crowd pleaser!
This is not the simplest of recipes, it definitely involved quite a bit of effort and time, but was fun and well worth it. I went on the authors recommendations of doing the cheesecake in a rectangular dish and halving the recipe for the filling so that the dish has an equal focus on the crust and the filling. This worked perfectly for me (although I will give you the original recipe with, you can choose to half the filling, if desired).

BROWN SUGAR-APPLE BAKED CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS:

For the Crust:

30 ginger snaps

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples:

1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eights.

2 Tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling: (original recipe):

1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

6 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons apple cider

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup heavy cream

METHOD:

To make the Crust-

1. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 10 inch spring form pan. (I had no idea what this was, but figured its a pan that bakes in water, so I made my own and baked the dish in another dish and surrounded it with boiling water)

2. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs. Pulse in the sugar and the cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.

3. Turn the crumbs into the spring form pan and, using your finger tips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F

1. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 10 inch spring form pan.

2. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs. Pulse in the sugar and the cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.

3. Turn the crumbs into the spring form pan and, using your finger tips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To make the Apples-

1. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

2. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 Tablespoon of sugar and cook them, turning until just coated, for another minute or so.

3. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet, and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

To make the Filling-

1. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fit with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping the bowl down often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth.

2. Add the sugar and beat for another two minutes . Beat in the cider, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs, one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the heavy cream and sour cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

4. Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. (I used a foiled lined 9 x 7 inch baking pan. Also, I didn’t add apples into the cheesecake itself, I added the apples on top of the cheesecake once out of the oven and cooled.)

5. Cover with the remaining batter, and if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top.

6. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour enough boiling water in to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

7. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30-45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent ath e 45- minute mark. (I baked my cake for 45-50 minutes). The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possible, in the very center- if the center shimmies, that’s just fine.

8. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, overnight would be better.

9. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pans latch and release and remove the sides. (I lifted the cheesecake out with the overhanging foil flaps and gently removed the foil from the sides of the cheesecake, then I cut the cheesecake into 8 bars and topped with the apple mixture.)