Tamarind and Orange Chicken (4)

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Tamarind paste is a key ingredient in Thai cooking and you will probably have eaten it without knowing it. However, if you taste the paste by dipping a finger in it and licking your finger you will find it has a sour, tangy taste which startles the taste buds. When combined with other ingredients its taste is changed. Tamarind paste is easily found in Asian stores or online if it is not stocked in your local supermarket.

Messing about in the kitchen with tamarind paste and coconut milk, ginger and garlic to prepare a Thai dish, I found that the tamarind flavor came through too strongly. It needed something sweet to dampen down its unique taste and I chose freshly squeezed orange juice. The resulting dish was no longer particularly Thai but it did produce a new chicken dish with a lovely thick, glossy sauce which I then topped with chopped cilantro. Brown rice is a good accompaniment.

2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 x skinless chicken legs

1 large onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 x 2 inch piece of ginger – grated

1 tsp. turmeric

1 can of lite coconut milk

1 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

Cilantro – finely chopped (enough for sprinkling over the top)

Heat oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the chicken legs and sear on both sides until nicely browned – set aside.

Add onion to the casserole dish (you can add more oil if needed) and let soften and brown before adding the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes until you can smell the spices.

Stir in the tamarind paste and when smooth pour in the coconut milk.

Place chicken legs in casserole dish, bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown rice.

 

 

 

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Tomato and Avocado Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette (4)

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Growing up in England in the 60’s and 70’s the idea of a salad was a far cry from the salads of of today. The English salad was a handy dish because it was cold. It was sometimes served on Sunday evenings after the woman of the house had slaved over preparing Sunday lunch for the family often when the man of the house decided a few pints at the local pub was in order and he returned home only in time to take his place at the head of the table and demonstrate his carving skills. On Sunday evening a no-fuss meal of salad might be provided and of course it was a good way of using up the cold, left-over meat from lunch. A salad could also be left for the man of the house to eat if his wife had to be out in the evening. Said man didn’t have to heatĀ  anything up as he was left a plate with some lettuce and slices of tomato, hard-boiled egg, cucumber and beetroot from a jar and a couple of slices of cold meat. The dressing was Heinz Salad Cream – still to be found today and, indeed, when there was talk of this product being discontinued a nostalgic furore ensued – today Heinz is still making Salad Cream!

When I came across mention of this vinaigrette the combination of flavors instantly appealed and the dressing didn’t let me down when I tossed tomato slices and chunks of avocado in it.

2 x beef tomatoes – sliced and each slice cut into quarters

1 x avocado – diced

For the dressing:

3 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 largish garlic clove – grated

1 tbsp. of chopped basil

Place the dressing ingredients in a largish bowl and whisk together so that they emulsify.

Add tomatoes and avocado and toss well together.

 

Salmon Poached with Garlic, Shallot, Lemon, Parsley and White Wine (4)

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Very simple to prepare and very tasty to eat served alongside roasted asparagus and new potatoes. It is a light healthy dish and dinner party worthy.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

4 x salmon fillets

1 cloves of garlic – grated

1 shallot – finely chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a piece of aluminum foil (large enough to wrap the pieces of salmon in) in a roasting tinĀ  and pop the salmon fillets on top.

Share the garlic and shallot equally between the salmon pieces.

Slowly drizzle the salmon slices with the oil and, again slowly, pour over the white wine and lemon juice.

Finally, sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper.

Cook in oven for 20 minutes or so, depending on how you like your salmon cooked.