Banh Mi

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Friday night in our house is take-away night.  However, living as we do on the very edge of the west coast of Ireland where the next village is Greenwich, New York, the choice of actual take-away is fairly limited so we make our own.  It’s the perfect little treat to end the working week and I tend to keep it simple but tasty – like homemade pizza with chilli and basil, yuk sung or juicy griddled chicken and pineapple with satay sauce.  The common theme is a bit of heat, lots of flavour and not too much effort.  Banh Mi fits the bill perfectly – it’s a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of crusty fresh baguette, spicy meat, crunchy pickled carrot and cabbage, creamy mayo and hot hot chilli sauce.  For the meat element I make spicy pork meatballs but you can use any meat you want, as long as there is lots of flavour.  Whilst the meat should add some spice to this the real heat comes from the chilli sauce and I use Sriracha, which is fast becoming one of my favourite things.  It’s a seriously hot inexpensive Thai sauce and leaves behind a tingle to the mouth that has to be good for you!  It’s available in Asian supermarkets and I got mine in Eurasia on the Fonthill Road in Dublin.  Just one tip on the roll – proper Banh Mi calls for crusty French baguette and some of the inside bread is scooped out to leave a shell to hold the fillings.  If you are really lucky to live near a great bakers and can get your hands on good baguettes then perfect, but the ones available around here are a certain brand that is part-baked in store and too heavy and dense for my liking so I use fresh salad rolls from the local bakers that have the requisite crisp outer crust and a really light interior so I don’t bother to scoop any bread out as they squish down perfectly to accommodate all of the filling when you take a bite.  There is enough here to serve 4 which means that in my house there is usually leftovers for a Saturday afternoon lunch for me too.  I use three meatballs per roll (in the pic above I have cut each meatball in two so there are six halves spread out on the roll). [Read more…]

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Hot Chilli Bean & Feta Soup for a cold day.

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I make this soup quite a lot – it’s spicy and warming and perfect for this time of year.  It’s also very simple to make and quite healthy so I tend to cook this for my weekday lunch and it’s chunky texture needs no bread to mop it up.  I do tend to make this quite spicy and the addition of lovely creamy Feta is a match made in heaven for me.   One thing I tend to find myself adding more and more to different dishes these days is a little bit of vinegar of some sort or another, which really seems to enhance the flavour of curries, soups and stews and here cider vinegar really adds a nice tang and subtle sweetness to the flavour of the chilli. This is also probably the only soup that I don’t add salt or pepper to! But feel free to add if you want.  [Read more…]

Barbecued Pork Fillet with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce

From Bill’s Everyday Asian

For my second experiment with Everyday Asian I had to try this recipe – I couldn’t resist the promise of barbecue, caramel and chilli so I apologise for posting another pork recipe so soon but I think you will forgive me if you try this out – it is really delicious!

Similarly to the last recipe this has few ingredients and is a really quick and easy dish to prepare. I was curious to know how the caramel sauce would work – I wasn’t sure if it would be too much but it works perfectly thanks to a little sourness from the lime juice and heat from the chilli.  I also admit to being a bit sceptical when I removed the pork from its marinade – the fish sauce was quite strong but once cooked it gives the meat the most amazing savouriness – I imagine this is similar to the umami effect of pairing anchovies with lamb.  My husband and son wanted to eat the pork straight from the griddle pan.  Don’t be put off by the ‘barbecue’ in the title – although I am sure it would be great cooked outside on a char-grill it can also be done on a griddle or frying pan.  I didn’t quite reduce the sauce enough – it was still delicious but next time I will give it a little more time on the hob which will make it that little bit thicker and stickier. The recipe says that the pork should be cut in to two pieces however I did 4 which made it that bit quicker to cook. [Read more…]

Stir-fried Chilli Pork

From Bill’s Everyday Asian by Bill Granger


Last year I made a conscious decision to cut down on the amount of cookbooks I was buying – not only was I running out of space but I just didn’t have enough time to try out all of the recipes that I wanted to.  This means that I am a little more select now in the books that I do buy and that’s no bad thing really.  I had my eye on this book ever since it was released last year – I am fast becoming a big fan of Mr Granger since receiving my first book of his, Bill’s Basics.  I always find around New Year that I start craving simple but spicier food after all the rich indulgences of Christmas so Bill’s Everyday Asian made perfect sense as the first book purchase of the year. And this book really didn’t disappoint – there are so many inspiring, simple, fresh and no doubt delicious dishes in here – I love that in the introduction Bill states that his one rule is “that nothing should require a list of a hundred hard-to-find ingredients”.  This is my type of cooking. [Read more…]

Toad in the Hole

 

When we were kids growing up in London my mum used to make Toad in the Hole all the time – I suppose it was a very economical way of cooking for a big family and ensuring bellies were full. It is very much an old traditional English dish and I don’t recall ever hearing anyone mention it here in Ireland.  I only recently starting making this for my own family and I really don’t know why it took me so long – we’re big fans of Yorkshire Puddings and sausages so what could be better than a dish made of both?  You can fancy it up a little by smearing the sausages in Dijon mustard before adding to the batter, or by using fancy sausages, or perhaps you could maybe play around by adding some herbs to the batter.  We like ours served with lashings of onion gravy – the more mopping up the better! [Read more…]

Chicken Satay

If there is one thing I miss about city life since moving to the country it’s the lack of choice and convenience when it comes to eating out or ordering in.  It became a little custom in our house on Friday nights to go out to our favourite Chinese restaurant or order in a pizza, a little treat at the end of a busy working week and I missed this a lot when we moved.  As with all things we learn to adapt and so now our Friday evenings feature our very own ‘homemade take-away’. We make things like pizzas, or burritos, or chow mein or curries, depending on the mood and how much effort we want to put in. [Read more…]

Yuk Sung

In my last post I mentioned how similar I thought Donal Skehan’s Asian Pork Lettuce Cups were to one of our favourite Chinese restaurant starters, Yuk Sung.  My husband would happily ‘eat a bucket’ of this stuff (his words!) and I believe him.  I once tried a recipe that I found online that required boiling the pork mince first and it was a bit long winded, the results weren’t anything like the Yuk Sung I was used to and my fried rice noodles were too greasy, so when I tried Donal’s Asian Pork Lettuce Cups I decided this would be the ideal starting point to making Yuk Sung and with just a few little tweaks the results tasted exactly like the restaurant version.  After trying Donal’s Pork Lettuce Cups I prefer this type of dish without the fried rice noodles – it is so much lighter. [Read more…]

Cajun Chicken with Cucumber Yoghurt

 

This evening’s dinner of hot, spicy Cajun chicken breast served with a cooling mint, coriander and cucumber yoghurt with rice was so quick and easy to make.  This isn’t so much a recipe but perhaps more a suggestion as there really isn’t much involved in making it  – I use Schwartz Cajun Seasoning but if you really wanted to you could blend your own Cajun spice mix, I am sure there are probably thousands of recipes out there. [Read more…]

Tuscan Bean Soup

 

This soup was one of the first things I earmarked to try in Catherine Fulvio’s lovely new cookbook – I knew I would love it and have been making it regularly ever since.  What I particularly like about this soup is that thanks to the pancetta, beans and macaroni it could easily be served up for a light supper with some lovely crusty bread and I doubt any one would complain.  I have to confess something here – I have been adding a little diced chorizo to mine at the start with the pancetta.  I know this is probably sacrilege to some but when it comes to food I think if you like it and it tastes good, then go right ahead.  I have added it in to the recipe below and also slightly changed the method. If you prefer leave the chorizo out but it does add lovely ‘depth’ as they say. Or you could just use chorizo, it’s up to you.  I leave the parmesan for sprinkling because my husband doesn’t eat cheese (strange man) so if you prefer you can add this in at the end of cooking to allow it to melt through.  This is such a warming, deeply flavoured soup – perfect for chilly days. [Read more…]

Homemade Sausages with Cider & Mustard Gravy

  

Bangers and mash must be one of the all-time great comfort foods which for me  instantly brings back memories of childhood.  This weekend I decided that instead of a Sunday roast I would make these lovely big rustic homemade sausages with some cider and mustard gravy.   This is a great way to feed the family – your sausages have a high meat content and you can control exactly what goes in to them and they are also very economical – I used four boneless loin chops which yielded 11 (if I had been more careful there could easily have been 12) good sized sausages and I found 2 was enough for me but my husband demolished 3!   I served the sausages with creamy mash, oven baked carrots and my first sprouts of the season – delicious! [Read more…]

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