Hot & Sour Thai Soup

I had a runny nose and decided to cure it the old fashion way… with a spicy soup. And what better soup than a thai soup with chilli peppers to release endorphins and fresh lime juice to top up your vitamin C intake!

All you need is:
about 1 litre of fresh chicken stock
juice of two limes
3 tbsp. thai fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 stalk of lemon grass (bashed)
2 small green finger chillis or one birds eye chilli, finely chopped
a handful of white mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
some soy sauce
250 gr. of king prawns or shrimps
a generous handful of freshly cooked chicken, torn into bite size pieces
3 bundles of rice noodles
6 leaves of savoy cabbage cut into fine strips
2 plum tomatoes, chopped into small pieces

Put the chicken stock with the kaffir lime leaves, the lemongrass stalk and about half of the lime juice into a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime marinade the prawns or shrimps in some soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

After ten minutes take the lemongrass stalk out of the stock and add the rest of the lime juice, thai fish sauce, brown sugar, chopped chilli and the chicken and simmer for another five minutes. In the meantime boil some water and cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions.

In a small pan heat some oil and gently fry the marinated shrimps (I usually just empty the whole bowl into the pan) until they are nicely browned and add them, the tomatoes and the cabbage to the soup and simmer for another few minutes. You want the cabbage to be still crunchy. If you need more seasoning, add some more fish sauce and lime juice. Serve with the rice noodles in a soup dish.

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A very British dish … Bangers and Mash!

My friend Susie cooked this when she had us girls over for dinner last week. Bangers and Mash is the familiar term for Sausage and Mash, a favorite British dish. The name bangers is believed to come from the habit of sausages bursting in the pan with a bang if cooked too quickly.

Bangers and mash is quick and easy to make; the main thing you need to look out for are good sausages, meaning a high meat content. The minimum meat content of a pork sausage is only 42%. The equivalent figures for most other sausages are around 30%. These figures are low but they are the legal minimum and most producers will use more meat.

The higher the pork content the better the sausage. So next time you pick up a pack of sausages do check the ingredients. You can find more information here.

Everyone has their own way of cooking sausages and making mash. I rather like coarse sausages and I like to fry them slowly to brown them all over.

My gravy contains onions fried with pancetta until all is soft, then I add fresh beef stock or vegetable stock and season it. I like to use some dried thyme, some wholegrain mustard, a little bit of marmite, freshly ground salt and pepper and some brown sugar. I cook the gravy on a high heat with no lid to reduce it and to get even more flavour.

For my mashed potatoes I use slightly overcooked mealy potatoes and use a ricer rather than a masher as the mash will turn out even smoother that way. Once all your potatoes are mashed add some hot milk, a knob of butter, some salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Whisk rigorously until you got rid of all lumps!

Serve with green beans, carrots or whatever vegetable you fancy that day! Enjoy!

Keith Floyd – you’ll be missed!

“Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the na├»ve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.”

From his 1989 book: A Feast of Floyd