Date Archives January 2015

Thai ‘Papaya Noodle’ Salad



I bought a Papaya on a wim. As an extremely disciplined person by nature, I find it annoyingly frustrating that I can never resist a supermarket food offer! After freely placing it in my basket without a second economic thought, my mind began racing over what to make with it. On my walk home, sat in the cinema that same afternoon and whilst relaxing in the bath the culinary devil sat on my shoulder. With salmon in the fridge I couldn’t resist the flavoursome attraction of Thai ingredients to combine with from the pantry.

This recipe is loosely based on one by ‘The Hairy Bikers’. However it does emit some of the ingredients suggested as the pantry let me down (shocker) on tamarind water….but it tasted delicious! And who knows, it could taste even better? The important thing here is to make the dressing seperately and taste as you go along adding more of any ingredient you need depending on the taste which is how I came up with the below. Only then, once you have it to your liking, should you dress the salad. This may sound hard but trust your instinct and taste buds! See below for help.

Serves 2-3 depending on appetite!

  • 1 large papaya, peeled and chopped into matchsticks of julienned with a peeler
  • 3 oz red camague rice
  • 1 small red chilli, finely copped
  • 2cm knob ginger, half grated, half finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar (palm or brown sugar)
  • Bunch mint leavves, chopped roughly
  • Bunch basil, chopped roughly
  • Large handful roasted peanuts
  • 2-3 salmon fillets
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Start by simmering the rice in boiling water for about 20 minutes until cooked. Drain and keep warm
  2. Next make the dressing. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy, fish sauce and sugar. Give it all a good mix and taste. Add more of what you think it needs. This may be hard but use your instinct. Add more lime for sharpness, sugar for sweetness and soy for savoury saltiness. Quantities will all depend on the ingredients you start with. The soy I used here for example was even new to me –  a very dark, intense type unlike my usual light soy which is less pungent.
  3. Set aside the dressing when you’re happy with it while you julienne the papaya. I have a special peeler for this which I highly recommend if you’re into your raw vege noodles (see here). If not, chopp into matchsticks.
  4. You want to assemble the salad at the last minute when ready to eat so cook your salmon and broccoli before this. Heat a large fryng pan until medium-hot. Add a tbsp olive oil and fry the salmon fillets, skin side down for about 3 minutes on the skin side. Once the skin is nice and crispy turn onto the flesh side and cook for a further 2 minutes to brown it all over and create a lovely charred crust on the outside. Don’t be tempted to cook the salmon longer, the crust on the outside will be a delicous contrast to the soft just-pink inside. No matter what thickness the salmon, it should (generally) never take more than 5 minutes in a medium hot pan. Additionally, it will continue cooking while you bring it to the table.
  5. Steam or boil your broccoli and drain. Drizzle with the sesame oil.
  6. When ready to serve, combine the rice with a few tablespoons of dressing. Add the papaya, chopped herbs and peanuts and mix (reserving a handful or herbs for garnish). Add enough dressing to your liking but make sure its not swimming in the stuff!
  7. Top the salad with your tender salmon fillets alongside your freshly cooked broccoli and scatter with the reserved herbs.

WINE: Excellent served with a delicious Riesling (see here for a suggestion)


Chilli Corn Soup

I’ve been creating a lot of soup recipes recently. Its such a fantastic way of getting your greens and vegetable into your diet. And with the chilly weather recently, I’ve found myself lunching on soup nearly everyday! So some variation was in order. I churn out the same old soups, for ease, taste and price. But with a little thinking time I’ve tried to come up with some more original ideas to keep lunch times more interesting.

Like my quick pea and mint soup this is another super speedy soup that can be made in about 15minutes. Its so full of flavour and punch for such a quick recipe! While served simply as it is its great for a quick or light lunch it can be bulked up by adding some raw king prawns while you heat it through or with more chunks of hot fried chorizo for more of a hearty chowder style. I’ve also been known to crush a handful of cheese laden nachos on top too….and on the side….and errr….as a second course on those chilly nights. Its improtant to keep warm you know.

(This is a chunkier and spicier sweetcorn soup to the velvety creamed corn soup version here)

Serves 4

  • 4 spring onions, chopped including green tops
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 red chilli – as hot as you can handle
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 cans sweetcorn (net drained weight about 520g or the same weight in frozen corn)
  • About 500ml hot stock
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • Large bunch chopped coriander, stems reserved
  • To serve – Lime yoghurt, soured cream fried chorizo, prawns etc
  1. Heat a splash of oil in a sauce pan. Fry the spring onion lightly until softened then add the garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes.
  2. Add the sweetcorn to the pan along with the chilliflakes and coriander stems and turn up the heat.
  3. Add just enough stock to cover the corn so there is enough for it to simmer in the liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Blend with a hand blender adding as much stock as you need to obtain the consistency you want. Grates in the zest of the lime and squeeze in the juice. Add the coriander and blend again.
  5. Serve topped with e.g. fried chorizo, fried prawns, lime yoghurt a drop of chilli oil OR…. all of the above!


Chicken Gyozas






These bitesized morsels are one of my boyfriends favourites. But how could I possibly be outdone and beaten by Wagamamas on any culinary level!? As a passionate cook and foodie how could I let it rest that there was a dish out there he’d rather order in over cooking! Challenge raised and accepted, out came my surface level competitve and perfectionists nature. So, this weekend I attempted to make my first chicken gyozas – aka Japanese dumplings if you’re a Japanese or Wagamama newbie. I’d never really had these before so the idea seemed daunting, with thoughts of specialised steamers or equipment. But I can’t lie….these could not have been easier to recreate at home! I’ll admit they are a little fiddly to assemble but with 2 or 3 under your belt they’re easy. The only draw back is the time consuming assembly as after the first 5 or 6 you begin to get bored with the repetitive nature. With my boyfriend away this weekend I thought I’d practice them alone – a wise move if I had any hope of winning (my own?) challenge. However, now I know they are a success an extra pair of hands for the assembly wouldn’t go amiss! But I stress now that once made the cooking couldn’t be easier. Fried then steamed in a matter of minutes! Fast food that is totally fresh, hot and steamed to order. You can even make them in advance and cook within 10 minutes for any hungry guests.

Recipe adapted (with good reason) from ‘The Hairy Bikers’. (Makes about 30!?)

Gyoza Skin

  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g strong bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml boiling water

Chicken Filling

  • 500g minced chicken
  • 1/3 white cabbage, shredded
  • Large knob ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped spring onions (green parts)
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Pinch sugar
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Dipping sauce

  • 6 tbsp soya sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Squeeze lime juice
  • Dash chilli oil
  1. Combine and taste. Adjust as necessary


  1. Start with the dough. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and then gradually pour in the water using a knife to mix it. Keep mixing until it comes together to form a dough.
  2. Form the dough into a ball using your hands then wrap in clng film and rest and cool in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and use your hands to squeeze the ingredients together.
  4. When ready to assemble remove the dough from the fridge. Chop in half to make it easier to handle and roll the dough as thinly as you can on a flowered surface. Use a 10cm cutter to cut rounds of the dough.
  5. Place a tsp of chicken mixture into the middle then use a dash of water to wet the circumference of the dough circle with your finger.
  6. Make the next bit as professional as you like. I made mine look more like mini pasties but as long as the filling remains locked in, it doesnt matter what they look like!
  7. Start by folding the dough over the filling so you form a half moon shape like a mini cornish pasty. Pinch together the middle so it sticks and do the same with the other sides. Pleat the edges however you like so it is tightly sealed. Place on a flowered tray while you make the rest.
  8. Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have a tray of gyozas (about 30 depending on size).


  1. When ready to cook, heat a large frying pan that can hold a fitted lid or a shallow saucepan with a tbsp or two of sunflower oil until hot.
  2. Fill the pan with as many gyozas as will fit in one layer placing them on thier flat base side for about 2 minutes until golden brown and a crust has formed. Make sure they don’t stick by giving them a shake now and again.
  3. Once a crusty golden base has formed, add 200ml of water to the pan and immediately fit with a lid. This will bubble up and steam up nicely so turn the heat down to a medium high or healthy simmer. Give them a shake to release any that are in danger of getting stuck to the bottom and then steam for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately once removed from the pan and scatter with fresh chopped coriander and the dipping suace.
  6. Chopsticks for the experienced…..


Pea and Ham Soup, Parmesan Croutons


Bit of a belated recipe post for a festive Christmas soup to use up those leftovers and freshen the taste buds after an indulgent feast! Apologies if the posts have been a little thin on the ground recently. I haven’t stopped eating or reverted to a juice only January diet that some of my friends (sorry acquaintances) have been doing (!?). I also haven’t stopped cooking….or taking photos! Far from it. But the combination of a broken laptop and a delicious adventure to Paris over New Year stole my attention temporarily.

I’m no killjoy so don’t worry, the health benefits of the peas in this recipe can be couteracted slightly if you’ve invested some well worth time into cooking a delicious succulent sugar glazed ham and have any straggling leftovers to pop in. Simialry this can be countereacted with some cheese saturated paremsan croutons. Alternatively continue the alcohol themed festivities and serve with a delicious door-stop wedge of my served ’Boy Beer Bread’ slathered with salted butter.

Pea, Mint and Ham Soup

Serves 4

  • 550g frozen peas (50g reserved)
  • 750ml hot stock
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large clove garlic, diced
  • 1 large knob butter
  • Small handful thyme, leaves stripped
  • Handful fresh mint
  • Large handful of leftover shredded or chopped ham or ham hock
  • Serve with parmesan croutons below of butter slathered bread. E.g. a wedge of my ’Boy Beer Bread’
  1. Heat the butter with a splash of oil in a large saucepan until beginning to sizzle.
  2. Slowly cook and soften the onion for about 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Next, turn up the heat and add the peas and mix. Add 600ml of the hot stock and half the mint leaves
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  6. After this time remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender. Add more stock if you want it thinner, this with vary on how you like you’re soup.
  7. Chop the reminaing mint leaves and then add to soup and blend again.
  8. Return the soup to the hob and add the reserved whole peas and stir in the ham.
  9. Heat through for a few minutes then enjoy!


Parmesan Croutons

  • 250g stale bread, cut or ripped into large croutons
  • 4 large dessertspoons of grated parmesan
  • About 4 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Douse the bread in the olive oil in a large baking tray. Cover with the parmesan and mix. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy.