Thai Style Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thai style meatballs on noodles

Fragrantly spiced meatballs on a bed of noodles, smothered in a creamy but fiery peanut sauce: a quick, easy and very tasty meal, ideal for mid-week when cooking motivation is fading and take-out food is looking appealing.  Way better than ordering in, and not that much more effort.

meatball ingredientsIngredients

For the meatballs
500g minced meat (I used beef here but go with what you like)
4-5 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 dessert spoon fresh ginger root, grated
½ lime – zest and juice
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 egg

curry paste ingredientsFor the sauce
1 tin coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter – smooth or crunchy, as is your desire

For the curry paste
6-7 shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
3-4 red chillies
1 teaspoon peppercorns – crushed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
½ lemon – zest only
½ lime – zest and juice
A handful of fresh coriander leaves

A couple of tablespoons of oil for frying

Noodles or rice to serve

Music

You’ll need a plate or tray for putting the rolled meatballs on – one that will fit in your fridge.  Got one?  Grand!

all the meatball ingredients in a bowl

Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and, using your hands, mix together.

roll into balls

Shape into 16-20 small meatballs and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or 10 in the freezer, but don’t forget about them!)

prepared curry paste ingredients

Put all the curry paste ingredients into a food processor.  Or you can use a pestle and mortar – it brings out more oils, and therefore flavours, but my word do you have to work for them!

ground to a paste

Grind to a thick paste.

Coconut milk

Heat around a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan until it reaches sizzling point then add your curry paste.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes then add coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer.

Peanut butter

Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter and continue to heat until sauce has thickened.  You may need to use a hand whisk to bring together the oils.  Keep warm on a low heat while you fry up your meatballs; stir occasionally to keep it from sticking.

Thai style meatballs with spicy peanut sauce

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs until they’re evenly browned all over and piping hot in the middle.

Arrange meatballs on noodles or rice, pour over peanut sauce and finish with a sprinkling of chopped spring onion.

Ta da!  Dinner’s done!

x

Wickedly Tempting Chilli Chocolate Brownies

For one reason and another it’s been a dreadfully long time since Barn and I were able to enjoy a leisurely Sunday brunch together; however, the calendar indicated that our free time would coincide this weekend – glee!

Barn was full of anticipatory excitement as Sunday approached – the ‘big food shop’ had been delivered, cupboards, fridge and freezer were bulging with exotic delights…expectations were high for some kind of culinary wizardry.

BrowniesThen the day dawned and all I wanted to eat was brownies – warm, fudgey, chocolatey brownies.

Now Barn’s not normally one to need persuasion to eat chocolate but for some reason he was being difficult:

“You can’t just eat cake.  You have to have something savoury first.”

“OK, I’ll have a piece of Marmite on toast.”

The LookHe gave me The Look

“Fine!  I’ll have a piece of Marmite on toast, cut it in half and therefore will eat TWO pieces of toast”

He wasn’t buying it

“All right, all right…I’ll have a bacon sandwich.  But only if you make it while I make brownies – of which I’m going to eat non-rationed and unquestioned quantities.”

And so the deal was done

Bacon buttyThis is the bacon butty that was duly consumed: rather tasty and actually a good call on Barn’s part, as me, fuelled solely by sugar and butter = likely bad ending 😉Chilli chocolateIngredients
200g unsalted butter
130g plain dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g chilli flavoured dark chocolate, broken into chunks
alternatively, use 230g plain chocolate and a pinch or two of chilli flakes ground into powder with a mortar and pestle – add this in with chocolate
160g caster sugar (preferably golden, but white is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
25g cocoa powder
3 medium eggs, beaten
100g ground almonds
50g plain gluten free flour mix (I use Dove’s Farm)
Music

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C/325ºF.

Lightly butter your baking tin and line with greaseproof paper (you can probably get away without lining but I tend to play safe).  My tin was a little to large and so the brownies were a touch too thin – a 8″ (20cm) square tin would be about right.

Broken chocolate chunksMelt the chocolate and butter gently over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan.

Melted chocolate and butterTake the pan off the heat.

Vanilla pasteSift in cocoa powder, add vanilla and sugar and whisk until combined.  Leave the mix to cool a little (5-10 minutes).

Sugar, cocoa, vanilla and eggs addedAdd eggs to chocolate mix and beat until smooth and glossy.

Ground almondsBeat in ground almonds and flour then pour into the prepared baking tray.

Baked brownie trayBake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until just firm to the touch in the centre.
(I don’t know why that pretty swirly design happened – please don’t be cross if you don’t get this lovely effect 😉 )

Allow to cool a bit before turning out of the tray and cutting into squares.

Brownies and creamServe warm with whipped cream.

When completely cooled, store in an airtight container – this makes it easy to carry them around with you so you can snack at will through the day 😀
x

Spiced Chicken Kebabs with Mango Salsa

We awoke early this morning to a stunningly beautiful, hot, sunny day – a rare enough occasion in these parts to instantly elevate the day’s status to ‘awesome’.

Days like this tend to trigger serious house and garden maintenance activity from both Barn and me – dust motes dancing in sun rays are only romantic in films and photographs, and prostrating oneself for sun worship amidst towering grasses and triffidesque weeds is not altogether appealing.

Today, by some unspoken agreement, and in a manner quite atypical of the Renegade household, we went with the ‘traditional’ breakdown of tasks: while he was outside, hacking around, always alert for the possibility of discovering lost tribes in the depths of the wilderness, I was hurtling around the house, corralling possessions back to their designated areas, collecting laundry from behind the bathroom door, and terrorising dust bunnies with the hoover.

In no time at all the house was guest presentable and the garden is now, if not tamed, at least subdued.  It’s amazing how quickly things can get done when the sun is doffing its hat and waggling its hot little fingers at you.

The view from the garden swing seat
The view from the garden swing seat

I think the smell of cut grass and the heat of the sun joined forces with the temptingly ripe mango to influence the dinner menu on Day 2 of the Cupboard Challenge.

Serves two
Plan ahead as this requires marinading time!

Chicken Kebab Ingredients
400g chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 courgette, cut into chunks
1-2 onions, cut into chunks

It would have been better with lime, but lemon was what we had...
It would have been better with lime, but lemon was what we had…

Marinade
1 Scotch Bonnet chilli, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Approx. 2 dessert spoons dark brown sugar (I used muscovado)
A good couple of glugs of olive oil
Approx. 4 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce if not bothered about gluten)
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme
A good grating of fresh nutmeg

Although there's garlic in this picture, I didn't use it in the end, deciding the flavour would be too strong.
Although there’s garlic in this picture, I didn’t use it in the end, deciding the flavour would be too strong.

Mango Salsa Ingredients
1 ripe mango, diced
2 spring onions, sliced
zest and juice of half a lemon (again, lime would have been better)
Half Scotch Bonnet chilli, finely chopped
A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Music

Chicken in marinade

Get the kebabs under way by putting all the marinade ingredients into a shallow dish and mixing well.  Add chicken chunks and smoosh around with your hands to ensure all the pieces are well coated. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours (I think 6 hours would be even better).

Mango salsa

Next up, put all the salsa ingredients into a bowl, stir well, cover and refrigerate for around 4-6 hours (depending how long your chicken’s getting).

While the chicken’s marinading and the salsa’s melding, go and read a trashy novel (or your personal equivalent).  If possible, sit in sunshine.

Courgettes and onions

Chickn and veg on skewers

When the marinading time’s up, or you’re ravenous and just can’t wait any longer, thread alternating chunks of chicken, courgette and onion onto skewers.

Chicken kebabs

Grill, or barbecue, turning frequently, making sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Baste with marinade during cooking to keep the chicken moist and intensify flavour.

Spicy chicken kebabs, mango salsa and potato wedgesServe with oven crisped potato wedges, peppery watercress and the luscious mango salsa.  Or serve with other things, as you wish.

This whole meal tasted amazing; however, visually it would have benefited from additional colour.  If I’d had any I’d have added sweet red pepper, either diced in the salsa or chunked for the kebabs.  In the absence of red peppers, perhaps I should have used tomatoes?

x

Rugged Peas (peas with mint and chilli)

My take on the peas served by a certain casual dining chain that specialises in chicken dishes.  This is a case of imitation being a form of flattery – I love their peas but really can’t dine out as frequently as my desire for them would dictate. So…

Rugged peas and cod goujonRugged peas as an accompaniment to a cod goujon.

Ingredients
Enough frozen peas to fulfil your serving requirements
3-4 red chillies, finely chopped (adjust quantities according to the chilli type you’re using and the heat levels you like)
4 leafy stems of fresh mint – 3 whole and 1 with the leaves stripped and finely chopped
Small knob of butter

Boil peas, together with 3 whole stems of mint, until cooked (times vary from brand to brand).

Drain, removing and discarding mint.

Using a fork, coarsely mash half of the peas.

Melt butter in pan over a low heat and cook chopped chillies for a few seconds.

Add mashed peas, whole peas and chopped mint, stirring to combine well.

Serve.

x

The food week that was – 16/02/15

It’s been another busy week in the day job arena for the entire Renegade household so most meals were made based on existing stocks and following the line of least resistance.  We also took a fair degree of inspiration from other bloggers this week – thank you for helping keep tummies full, taste buds tantalised and faces smiling.
Veg chilliMonday: Chilli-non-carne made using left overs from Medieval’s birthday meal: the remnants of both sweetcorn and tomato salsas, jalapeños, fire roasted chillies, chilli ketchup and a whole heap of diced onion and peppers went in, along with tinned tomatoes, kidney, black-eyed and haricot beans, mushrooms and a little vegetable stock.  Left doing its thang in the slow cooker all day, it came out with the flavours beautifully melded and with the perfect degree of ‘kick’.

Dressed with plenty of grated Monteray Jack, a good dollop of soured cream and freshly chopped chives this chilli was a very welcomed (if short stayed) visitor to our table.

Pork in cider sauce collageTuesday: What do you make for dinner when you have some fabulous pork steaks and a rather nice bottle of cider?  Obviously, you make pork in cider sauce.

Nice and easy – pork, sliced apple (no need to peel), onions, vegetable stock, cider and seasoning, braised in the oven.  While that’s happening – prepare and steam veg (in this case new season potatoes, carrots and purple sprouting broccoli).  Remove pork and keep warm – add a large teaspoon of wholegrain mustard to the cooked cider mix then blitz in the blender/food processor.  Transfer to small pan, add double cream until you think it’s enough (sorry…it’s how I cook!!), warm gently, adjust seasoning, pour over pork and serve.

I nearly always forget to do it, but the finished dish is more visually appealing if you keep some of the onion and apple pieces in chunks, adding them back into the sauce after blitzing the rest.  Either way…this is a lick your plate clean kind of sauce!

Banana Bread and Butter Pudding collage

Wednesday: There was only me to consider for dinner as Barn was out gym-ing (sing it with me to the tune of Bob Marley – “We’re gym-ing, we’re gym-ing…”) and would therefore fend for himself later, and Petit Man was out for the night doing I-care-not-to-think-what with his girlfriend.

I chose to have a version of bread and butter pudding.  That’s it, that’s all I had.  Apart from the chocolate ice-cream on top.  It pleased the kid inside me who once declared, “When I’m a grown up I’m going to eat a whole pudding all to myself!”  It confirmed (as if it were needed) to my adult self that there is a good reason we don’t let kids eat a whole pudding all to themselves.

It all started because The Sweet and Savory Bite published this recipe for Amaretto Bread Pudding.  Now I’m not blaming the lovely Lizzy for what then ensued, nor am I saying her delicious and rather stylish pudding bears any relation to the gooey nursery food that I produced…I’m just sayin’ that her post was a catalyst… Until reading that post, I’d not thought about traditional English bread and butter pudding in years; once the memory had been awakened I could not get it to go back to sleep.

Continue reading

Chocoholic’s Dream Cake

Box of chocolatesIf life is like a box of chocolates, this cake represents the kind of life I’d like to have!

Dark chocolate and white chocolate cake layers, with salted caramel frosting. Covered in chocolate fondant, decorated with chocolates and modelling chocolate.

This cake involved several firsts for me…first time using modelling chocolate (expensive but fabulously malleable and easy to use), the first time tempering chocolate, the first time using chocolate transfers and the first time I covered something other than a straightforward, flat cake.

chocolate lidThe lid was made using a lined, loose bottomed cake tin as a mould.  The sheets transfer was laid onto the bottom of the tin before the orange chocolate was poured on top.  There was then an interminable wait for it to completely solidify before the heart stopping moment of removal.  I was worried it would crack but luck was on my side and the whole thing came out very easily, albeit with some scratches on the transfer design.

Chocolate selectionCovering the cake was really difficult, not least because I didn’t have quite enough fondant and therefore had to roll it too thinly.  I think it turned out not too bad in the end though.

The discs on the sides of the box were made by pouring a thin layer of melted chilli chocolate onto a transfer sheet, then cutting out the shapes with metal cutters just before it had set (too soon and it runs back together, too late and it cracks).  The box is filled with a selection of Hotel Chocolat chocolates, ‘cos we all adore Hotel Chocolat, don’t we?

lifting the lidThe bow, ribbon and trim around the base of the box were made with orange flavour modelling chocolate.  I subsequently realised that I could have rolled this a LOT thinner, and it would still have held its shape…as it’s costly stuff, that’s a good thing to have learned!

Clearly, to enjoy this cake you would need to like chocolate.  A lot.  Fortunately, the friend it was made for really, really does, although it took some time before she and her family could bring themselves to break it all up.  It’s a CAKE guys…its whole raison d’être is to be eaten!

x