With that in mind, I thought I ought to have something relatively healthy for dinner. And so I turned to someone who would never replace butter with a low-fat margarine – Nigella. Her Vietnamese Coleslaw from Nigella Bites is so good, it would be one of her recipes that I make the most. It is basically a shredded cabbage, carrot, and chicken salad with Vietnamese dressing, but I hardly ever put chicken in it as it is wondrous and cheaper without. I’ll give you my adapted recipe for the dressing as no one needs to be told how to chop carrots and cabbage (mind you, it is infinitely easier and quicker whizzed up in the food processor)
-1 1/2 t rice vinegar
-1 1/2 tablespoons each of lime juice, fish sauce, vegetable oil, and sugar.
With this goes a crushed garlic clove and as much chilli as you can handle. I suppose you could replace the sugar and chilli with a spoonful of sweet chilli sauce. I usually have lemons, not limes, to hand, which works fine, and I quite often leave out the oil and replace it with a few shakes of sesame oil. Anyway, mix all this into the vegetables, along with chopped mint, which gives it an incredible freshness. Seriously, I could eat this by the bucketload. It even looks quite beautiful, so one can revel smugly in their healthy dinner –
Above: World’s. Best. Coleslaw.
With that I made the Chicken with Soy and Sherry from the New Zealand cookbook. Except…we don’t have sherry, so I replaced it, a little recklessly, with Sake, ie Japanese rice wine, a substance that I looooove to cook with. This recipe (which I deviated from slightly) is a very simple combination of great flavours. Basically, in a roasting dish I put chicken pieces, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, onions, Sake, and sesame seeds for crunch. I realise that putting Japanese and Vietnamese flavours together may seem a little dismissive of the respective nations’ cuisines but…if food tastes good, eat it!
Above: A sliiightly blurry photo of the chicken. Despite having no added fat (oh alright, a few shakes of sesame oil) it was crispy and toothsome.
While the chicken was in the oven, I got started on the pastry. I have to say, pastry makes me nervous, but Nigella does have it pretty sorted. As with the cole slaw, life is much, much easier if you use a food processor. Okay, so cleaning it is a bit of a pain, but it knocks so much time off the making process. I am suspicious of anything labelled ‘fool proof’ (ie, my learners driving liscence…”any fool can pass it,” they said…not this one) but Nigella’s pastry pretty much is. The crucial thing is to freeze the flour, and half its weight in fat, for a bit in the actual processor bowl. Cold= good, warm=bad for pastry, and the less you handle it the better. Whizz the two together, add a little cold, lemony water, refrigerate for a bit, and then roll out. It actually is remarkably do-able, even for someone like me who gets flour everywhere.
Above: the pastry, which was a dream to roll out waiting to be pressed into my silicone pie-tin.
One of the BEST things about this pie, no, THE BEST thing about it, is that it doesn’t need baking blind. Oh, how I hate baking blind. I can never manage to escape from burning myself while removing the weights.
Above: I did manage to use quite a few apples in this and thus justified my desire to make pie!
This doesn’t really further the plot but I thought this looked pretty, which I am not always capable of in cooking. Looking capable isn’t always my forte either, come to think of it…
All that happens now is a dense mixture of brown sugar, cream, eggs and flour is poured over, and the pie is baked.
Above: The finished product. Isn’t this wholesome and comforting to look at, with its monochrome butterscotch colours and bits of apple peeking out from the toffee flavoured filling. That’s a statement, not a question.
This was so, so yum, the filling had a texture similar to frangipane and contrasted delightfully with the sour apples, while the pastry was feather-light and crisp.
In other news, Tim and I have been studying hard for our exam next Monday, so things may be a trifle slower round here…I had a dream about Shakespear’s Cymbeline last night in which I altered the ending, I don’t know if this a good thing or not!