Thai Beef Curry

 

Thai Beef Curry was one of the first dishes I ever attempted to properly cook, from scratch. Despite never visiting the country, Thai is fast becoming one of my favourite class of foods (as I am sure it is for many).

The fragrant mix of sweet, salt and sour with a big punch of chilli wakens the palate in a flash. It is essential that this curry is made fresh – freshness is the very essence of thai cooking. By preparing everything just before finishing, you can be assured that the fragrance of the lemongrass and ginger will not be lost.

I have used ginger instead of galangal in this recipe as I have had problems sourcing the latter – but by all means use galangal if it is available. This is a fairly simple version of thai curry, which is neither strictly green or red!

Thai Beef Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Paste: Large Handful Coriander Stalks, 2 Garlic Cloves, 1 Red Onion, 1 inch Ginger Peeled, 2 Birds Eye Chillies (or to taste), Juice + Zest 1 Lime, 1tsp Palm Sugar, 1tsp Fish Sauce, 1tbsp Kaffir Lime Leaves, Handful Thai Basil (or normal), 1tsp Salt.

To Finish: 600g Rump Steak Stripped, 200g Green Beans Halved, 1 Tin Coconut Milk, Lime Juice (to taste), Salt (to taste), Handful Chopped Coriander.

Method:
1) To make the paste, place all the ingredients in a small food processor or spice grinder with a splash of vegetable oil and blend for a few minutes to a fine paste.
2) Place a large pan or wok on a high heat. Fry the paste in a little vegetable oil for 2 minutes.
3) Add the beef and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning frequently. Add the green beans.
4) Add the coconut milk and stir. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Cook for 2-5 minutes until warmed through.
5) Stir through the chopped coriander and serve.

Best served with jasmine rice and a simple cucumber salad.

White Chocolate Fudge

 

I have my mum to thank for this wonderfully simple recipe. Gloriously sweet with a perfect sticky texture. Guaranteed to be gone in a flash, this fudge has become a firm favorite with my flatmates.

I normally shun the microwave; however, it is the perfect technique to use when making white chocolate fudge – this recipe is foolproof and super quick. Using good quality chocolate is key and will guarantee success time after time.

Please don’t limit yourself to white chocolate. Experiment – the technique works equally as well with milk and dark chocolate (or a good splash of rum)!

Speedy White Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

30g Butter

1 Tin Condensed Milk

450g White Chocolate (High Quality)

1tsp Vanilla Extract

Method:

1) In a bowl – break up the chocolate and add the butter, vanilla and condensed milk.

2) Microwave for 1 minute on full power. Remove and stir.

3) Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir then return for another 30 seconds.

4) Beat the mixture for around 2 minutes by hand and pour into a lined small, shallow baking tray.

5) Let set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Once set cut into squares and store in the fridge.

Enjoy!

 

Review: Ochiltree’s Dining, Abbotsford Visitors Centre, Scottish Borders

The famous home of Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford House, has recently constructed an impressive, modern visitors centre adjacent to the main house. Opened in August, the centre houses a shop, exhibition and restaurant. The restaurant, Ochiltree’s Dining, is currently open for brunch and lunch but plans to open for supper in the near future.

A large, modern space with café style seating, light streams through the full height windows – the space is impressive. Service is informal but of a high restaurant standard. Ochiltrees operates both a café and lunch menu. Great emphasis is placed on provenance and seasonality, with an elegantly simple menu. Hoping for a relaxing sunday lunch, I was delighted when a separate Sunday menu was offered.

Goats Cheese, Apple, Walnut

Goats Cheese Bon Bons were paired with apple and walnut salad and apple purée. The Bon Bons were great – soft and creamy goats cheese which did not overpower the apple and walnut. Apple purée was stunning – a hint of acidity and perfectly smooth. Beautifully presented and equally as delicious.

Ham Hock Terrine, Beetroot, Raisin

Ham Hock terrine was good. The accompanying beetroot relish sweet and sticky, working in harmony with the slightly smoky terrine. The ham hock was very tender and full of flavour. A big hunk of brioche on the side was just what was needed to mop up the raisin purée. Again, this was a beautiful dish – great pride had been taken in layering the terrine.

Sunday Roast Rib Eye

Traditional Sunday lunch – glorious! Rare Rib-Eye of local Borders beef was exquisite – tender and full of flavour. The Yorkshire pudding was ginormous and fluffy and the vegetables perfectly cooked. Beef jus was sweet and rich, much better than gravy which can be a little heavy at lunchtime.

Pineapple Mousse, Coconut Sorbet, Pina Colada

Pineapple Mousse, Coconut Sorbet and Pina Colada. Nicely refreshing after such a filling main course. The mousse was good but contained a little too much gelatin. The coconut sorbet was incredibly smooth and packed a punch. The ‘Pina Colada’ was delicious (but then it always was my favorite!). The dish was a touch too sweet – some extra acidity would have been welcomed. Nevertheless it was a good finish to a cracking sunday lunch.

Ochiltree’s Dining is a super restaurant (to call it a café is belittling). A short, simple menu is perfectly suited to the fresh surroundings. The quality of cooking is impressive and modern. I will be sure to return for a lazy Sunday lunch and will be keeping my fingers crossed it opens for supper!

Ochiltree’s Dining

www.scottsabbotsford.co.uk/eating-and-shopping

Food (For Three): £70

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Not Essential

Recommend: Yes

Review: The Caddy Mann, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders

The Caddy Mann has long been favored for its great, honest cooking and homely atmosphere. Given that it is only a 20 minute drive from home, it is surprising I had never been! Featured in the Good Food Guide 2013, the small restaurant is situated in a quaint cottage near Jedburgh, in the heart of the Scottish Borders.

Surrounded by antiques and local art work, sitting next to a roaring wood fired stove – you can’t help but feel at home. The informal service matches the surroundings perfectly and puts you instantly at ease.

Chef Ross Horrocks showcases the best of local produce in a menu which changes daily. The food is hearty, with a strong emphasis on game and meat. A choice of 10 starters and 10 main courses (all of which sounded delicious) left us stuck for choice.

Pigeon & Hare

Well cooked pigeon was sliced expertly thin and served atop a Hare Ragù. The hare packed a big punch – poached in red wine with a hint of rosemary. The pigeon still held its own, tasting wonderfully rich. Little dices of swede added to the autumnal feel!

Roe Deer Liver, Homemade Sausage

Roe Deer Liver was delightful. The liver was perfectly cooked, blackened on the outside, rare in the middle. The homemade sausage had the taste of a great traditional chipolata and when paired with the accompanying black pudding mash, made for a very comforting dish.

Lamb Loin and Shoulder

The Lamb Loin was perhaps the most tender I have eaten in a very long time. Well cooked and clearly rested for a suitably long time, the lamb had been treated with respect. The slow cooked shoulder still retained its cannon like shape but fell apart at the merest sight of a fork. The roasted baby onions added great sweetness, balancing the savory sauce. Perhaps the sauce could have been a little richer to help it stand up against the lamb. A simple but delicious dish.

Pork Four Ways

Pork Four Ways was inventive and well executed. All four pieces of pig were cooked to perfection – the fillet blushing pink, the cheek beautifully gelatinous, the belly meltingly tender and the crackling incredibly moreish! Apple and cinnamon purée was perfectly sweet yet acidic. The jus was a little cold but tasted great.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The sight of Sticky Toffee Pudding on any menu takes me straight back to my childhood – where I would order it everywhere I went. When the pudding was dubbed as ‘Our Famous’ and served with homemade ice cream, I got a little over-excited! The pudding was perfect. Beautifully light and fluffy yet deep and rich. The toffee sauce was on the cusp of bitterness – just as it should be, balancing the sweetness of the ice cream and pudding perfectly. This was a big portion – but I had no problem in polishing off the lot! Only a strong sense of self-restraint stopped me asking for seconds.

Lemon Posset with meringue and lemon mousse/set custard and ice cream was also delectable. The meringue was delicious, if a little too chewy and the posset sweet and suitably rich!

The Caddy Mann is a charming little place. Great, honest, traditional food served in homely surroundings. Everything was delicious and comforting. I am ashamed that it has taken me this long to visit this gem – but rest assured it will not take me as long to return.

The Caddy Mann Restaurant

www.caddymann.com

Food (For Two): £60

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Recommended for end of week

Recommend: Yes

Socca and Lamb Kofta

 

Socca is a revelation! Also known as Farinata, Socca is a thin pancake made from chickpea (gram) flour and traces its origins to South-East France. Three simple ingredients – gram flour, water and olive oil are cooked over a high heat with a little oil to create these wonderful pancakes.

Socca have a surprisingly rich flavour which puts me in mind of paneer or halloumi and are ideal for creating wraps or a simple starter. I used to pair lamb koftas with homemade flat breads – until I converted to socca! The wonderful softness of the pancake makes a fantastic base for the spicy koftas and salad.

Of course, you can top socca with whatever you like – a personal favorite is salsa or hummus. But I urge you to try this recipe, it is truly delicious!

Socca & Lamb Kofta
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Socca: 300g Gram Flour, 760ml Water, 6tbsp Olive Oil
Lamb Kofta: 600g Minced Lamb (around 70% Lean), 2tsp Ground Cumin, 2tsp Ground Sumac, 2tsp Ground Coriander, 1tsp Hot Chilli Powder, 2 Thyme Sprigs Leaves Picked
To Finish: 1 Red Onion Thinly Sliced, Handful Chopped Mint, Juice 1/2 Lemon, Natural Yogurt, Handful Chopped Cherry Tomatoes, Salad Leaves

Method:

1) Make the Koftas by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Form tangerine sized patties around long metal skewers into Kofta shapes. Set aside.
2) Make the Socca mixture by whisking all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
3) Pre-heat your grill on a high setting. Begin making the Socca as you would a pancake – using around a ladleful of batter per Socca for a large crêpe pan.
4) When you are most of the way through making the Socca, place the koftas under the grill. Grill for around 5 minutes each side or until cooked, turning in between. Keep the Socca warm until the Koftas have cooked.
5) To serve: Chop the Koftas into manageable chunks and place on the Socca. Top with a little natural yogurt, sliced red onion, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little chopped mint, some chopped tomatoes and salad leaves.

Leftover Socca make great wraps for the following lunchtime. Alternatively, crisp them up in a hot oven and serve with hummus.

Enjoy!