Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cheat's Jewish Chicken, Kneidle, Lockshen and Kreplach Soup

Chicken soup should not just be eaten when you're ill. It is a low fat, quick, delicious meal which can be as substantial as you like - depending on how many accoutrements you decide to add. Here, I have added the classic lockshen (noodles) kneidles (dumplings) and kreplach (wontons/tortellini), but you can add a combination of any of these.

There is a cafe in north-west London which serves this soup exactly as I do here. Not a chicken in sight and as authentic as Jewish chicken soup should be. My mum, Mrs Ribeye Sr, would hate this soup - she thinks chicken soup should actually contain chicken. Whatever you do, don't add fresh carrots - the tinned variety are just perfect for this recipe.

Mrs Ribeye demands this soup on a Sunday night instead of a sandwich -and who am I to deny her? This winter staple comes in at an incredible £1.50 per serving.

You could bump up the cost a bit, and still stay under budget by adding some shredded, cooked chicken. But a chicken soup containing actual chicken would be complete sacrilege, regardless of what my mum says.

Serves 4


4 tablespoons of Telma chicken soup powder, or 3 regular chicken stock cubes
400g tin of sliced carrots, drained and rinsed
1 litre of water
1 egg
75ml water
100g matzo meal or dried breadcrumbs
100g dried tagliatelli, or other noodles
100g dried beef tortellini
Pinch of black pepper, to serve

Mix the Telma or stock cubes with the litre of water in a large pan and add the carrots. Simmer on a low to moderate heat. Mix the egg, 75ml of water and matzo meal or breadcrumbs in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes to allow the gluten to develop. Roll the paste into golfball sized dumplings and plop them gently into the soup. Add the noodles and tortellini and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Russian Salad (Insalata Russa)

My old-ball-and-chain, Mrs Ribeye, is Russian - actually from Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic, close to the Ural mountains. Russian salad is actually Spanish. Mrs Ribeye hates things that say they are Russian, but are not authentic. But, Mrs Ribeye loves this Russian salad.

I first had 'insalata Russa' in a fabulous traditional family-run tapas restaurant in Caleta, a small village on the south coast of Tenerife.

My Dad, Mr Ribeye Sr (who just came back from a trip to Caleta), said that the old tapas place has gone all 'up-market' (naturally), but that a new tapas bar had opened recently and was making the Russian salad just as well, but at 1998 prices. Hurrah!

I haven't taken Mrs Ribeye to Caleta yet, but I will.

Eat this salad (actually more of a potato/fish pate) with a good warm white bread, a cold bad red wine and a fresh tomato and spring onion salad. You'll not only love it, but you'll wonder how you made such a fantastic dish for only £1 per serving.

Serves 4 for a starter or light lunch, or 8 as tapas


500g floury potatoes, such as King Edward or Maris Piper
200g tinned tuna, drained
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
100g pickled gherkins or cornichons, finely chopped
200ml mayonnaise
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
Warm crusty bread rolls, to serve

Boil the potatoes whole and with their skins still on, until soft. Peel the potatoes, while hot and with a cloth to protect your hands, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the tuna, onion, gherkins, mayonnaise and salt and pepper and mix well, breaking down the potatoes as you go, until you have a thick paste. Place on a serving platter and smooth the surface until you have an even dome. Sprinkle with the paprika. Refrigerate and then serve with the warm bread. 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Chorizo and Broccoli Sunday Frittata

By the time Sunday comes around, all my ambitions to go food shopping go out of the window, in favour of staying in, watching DVDs and spending some quality time with Mrs Ribeye.

So, the best thing to cook on a lazy Sunday afternoon is... anything I can find in the fridge. Today's bounty includes a chorizo sausage, a bunch of broccoli and a whole load of store cupboard staples. Put it all together, and it's frittata time!

Try any food combination you like, whether just-bought, or leftovers (the chorizo in today's recipe was left over from my Leek and Chorizo Potato Skins that I made mid-week) from last night's dinner: Ham cheese and peas, salmon and courgette, bacon and tomato, chicken artichoke and chili... But this one is superb (best ever, actually).

Leftovers, strictly speaking, should be considered free, but even if you use fresh stuff, these frittatas come in at only £2 per serving, at the most expensive.

Serves 4


4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
1 large bunch of broccoli, separated into small florets
1 teaspoon of salt
250g chorizo, cut into 1cm dice
2 onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
12 eggs
100ml milk
Pinch of black pepper
8 slices of buttered wholemeal toast, to serve

Boil the potatoes and broccoli in a large pan and add the salt. Take out the broccoli after the 5 minute mark and then the potatoes at the 10 minute mark (5 minutes after the broccoli) and set aside both in a bowl. In a large grill-friendly frying pan, fry the chorizo, onions and garlic in the olive oil, on a moderate heat, until translucent. Add the broccoli and potatoes and warm through. Preheat your grill to a very high setting. Whisk the eggs and milk in a jug and add the pepper. Arrange the ingredients in the frying pan evenly, to ensure a fair distribution. Pour over the eggs and milk mix and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring or moving the pan at all. Place the frying pan under the grill until the top is set, but not too brown (3 minutes approx). Cut the frittata into 4 thick wedges and serve with the toast.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce

Chicken and peanuts is hardly the sort of double act you would expect to go so well together. But for some reason, chicken satay is here to satay.

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to buy ready-made peanut sauce. It's either watered-down peanut butter, or an oily bland mess. My recipe for peanut sauce takes 5 minutes to make and is not only wonderful accompanying this chicken dish, but also fantastic as an Oriental-inspired noodle salad dressing. Just add cooked noodles to raw stir fry vegetables and coat with the sauce, for a quick lunch or summer starter.

You could also serve this with my Japanese-Style Grilled 'n' Chilled Aubergines for a nice contrast of flavours and textures.

Chicken satay is the archetypal street food all over Thailand, and as such, is cheap to make. £2 per generous meal serving, or £1 as a snack at your drinks party.

Serves 4

Chicken Satay Skewers


800g free range chicken thighs, skinned, boned and cut into 4cm dice
Thumb of ginger, minced,
2 cloves of garlic, minced
50ml soy sauce
50ml sesame oil

Salad greens (undressed), to serve

Marinade the chicken in the rest of the ingredients. After at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, thread the chicken pieces onto metal or pre-soaked (to prevent burning) wooden skewers. In a blisteringly hot pan or barbecue, cook the satays until slightly charred on the outside and cooked-through. Serve with the Peanut Sauce and green salad or my Japanese-style aubergines.


Peanut Sauce


I small onion, grated
Thumb of ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
25ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
25ml soy sauce
25ml water
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of sugar, or 25ml maple syrup
3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
25ml sesame oil

In a small pan on a moderate heat, fry the onion, ginger and garlic in the oil until translucent (5 minutes approx). Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat off. Mix well and leave in the pan until cool, to let the flavours mingle.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Mighty 'Man-wich'

A guys' night at our place means big drinks, Will Ferrell movies and BIG FOOD!

This creation is a trucker's (or pretend trucker's) dream: Every food group imaginable, trapped between two doorstop-sized pieces of bread. If it was up to one particular friend of mine, he would eat this every day of the year (in fairness, he does have a bit of a deathwish).

Eat very occasionally - but do try it. I guarantee that once you go man-wich, you won't go sandwich.

Get the guys to supply the booze and you supply the grub. It's a great deal. These badboys will only set you back £3 per serving.

I love lamp.

Serves 4


1 small white cabbage, shredded
1 small onion, finely chopped
50ml olive oil
25ml cider or white wine vinegar
Pinch of celery seed
1 teaspoon of sugar
Pinches of salt and pepper
4 large potatoes, cut into French fries (skin left on)
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
4 thick slices ham
4 thick slices pastrami or corned beef
8 slices salami
1 ball of mozzarella, cut into 4 slices
4 eggs
2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
8 thick slices of white bloomer bread

Firstly, make the coleslaw: Mix the cabbage, onion, celery seed, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil in a bowl and refrigerate until needed, preferably overnight to let the flavours mingle.

Secondly, make the French fries: Fry the potatoes in the oil on a moderate heat until golden and crunchy.

Thirdly, make the filling: Pile a slice of ham, 2 slices of salami and a slice of beef to make a three-way stack. Repeat 3 more times. In a dry pan on a moderate heat, lay the stacks in a single layer and fry until warmed-through. Place a slice of mozzarella onto each stack and keep cooking the stacks until the cheeses has melted. Place each stack onto a slice of the bread. Turn the heat in the pan up, add a tablespoon of oil and fry the four eggs, making sure the yolks are still runny. Place an egg onto the cheese layer of each stack. Place a handful of French fries, followed by 2-3 slices of tomato, and finally the coleslaw onto each stack. Top with the second slice of bread.

NB. The man-wich construction from top to bottom:

French fries
Three-way meat stack

Serve immediately (as if you wouldn't...).

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chinese Won Ton 'Spaghetti with Meatballs'

I really like messing around with recipes and combining cultures - Beijing meets Bologna. These won ton meatballs make a fantastic partner to stir-fried vegetable noodle 'spaghetti'. Try it - you'll see.

Cheap as chips and twice as nice. £2 per serving, makes this a fantastic mid-week meal for me, Mrs Ribeye and our friends.

Serves 4

Won Ton 'Meatballs'


500g pork mince
20ml rice wine or dry sherry
30ml sesame oil
30ml sunflower or vegeatble oil
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 egg, beaten
6 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
Pinches of salt and pepper
100g raw prawns

Mix the ingredients together (not the prawns) into a smooth paste. Take a prawn and encase it in a ball of the pork paste to a 4cm diameter. Refrigerate the won tons for 2 hours to firm-up. When the vegetable noodles are almost ready, steam the won tons until cooked (15 minutes approx). Serve on top of the vegetable noodle 'spaghetti'.


Vegetable Noodle 'Spaghetti'


1kg stir fry vegetables
Thumb of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic minced
25ml sunflower or vegetable oil
1kg pre-cooked egg noodles
50ml dark soy sauce
25ml sesame oil

4 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped, to serve

In a blisteringly hot large pan or wok, fry the vegetables, ginger and garlic in the oil, until translucent (10 minutes approx). Add the noodles, soy sauce and sesame oil and fold through the vegetables until the noodles have re-heated.
Garnish with the chopped spring onions and serve with the won ton 'meatballs' on top

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My Mum's Jewish Baked Cheesecake

This is the best cheesecake EVER. I know that everyone says that their mum is the best cook in the world - but mine actually is. It is an empirical fact. Everyone says so, alright?

My mum's cheesecake is light, fluffy, rich, moist and delicious. Make it every day (if you're not too keen on living a hugely long life).

Curd cheese is the proper ingredient to use, but sometimes hard to find. Use Philadelphia, or another high quality shop-bought cream cheese, and the effect will be almost as good, but slightly less authentic to the Russian-esque original recipe.

Desserts are cheap to make and fantastic to eat. A 'Potless' sound bite, if there ever was one. £5 for a cake that serves 10-15 people, means a maximum 50p per serving.

Serves 10-15


300g curd or cream cheese
150ml double cream
150ml sour cream
200g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of plain flour
3 eggs, with whites separated
Juice of 1 small lemon
100g amaretti biscuits (the hard type), crushed

Preheat oven to 180c. Whisk together the cheese, both creams, sugar, flour, lemon juice and egg yolks, until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peak stage. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter. In a 20cm round or square, foil-lined, spring form (loose-bottomed) cake tin, spoon in the crushed amaretti biscuits until you have an even 1cm layer. Spoon the cake mixture on top and smooth the surface. Place into oven and bake for 45 minutes approx. Check the cake; if still soggy in the middle, cook for a further 10 minutes, otherwise leave the cake in the oven and turn off the heat. Leave cake to cool in the oven to room temperature. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and place in the freezer for an hour, to assist in removing the foil (it is too difficult when the cake is at room temperature). Place on a platter and serve.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Thai Tiger Prawn Cakes with Carrot and Chilli Pickle

Tiger prawns do not have to be expensive. Buy them raw and frozen from your friendly Chinese cash and carry (restaurant suppliers) and they offer extremely good value and tend to be bigger than the sad little specimens found in your High Street supermarket. I buy them with the shells and vein removed, but with a small piece of the tail shell still attached (for grabbing). Delish!

Today's recipe is straight from the Thai night-market stands that you can find all over the islands. The pickle is quick to make and cuts the richness of these little prawn cakes beautifully.

Buy the largest prawns you can afford - I paid £6.50 per kilo (800g without tail shells). All in, this comes to £6 per serving of 20 cakes, together with the pickle. That's £1.50 per serving of 5 cakes. Unbeatable.

Serves 4 (20 tiger prawn cakes)

Thai Tiger Prawn Cakes


500g raw tiger prawns (400g net weight, without tail shells)
1 stalk of lemon grass, cut into 4
1 large clove of garlic, cut into 2
1 thumb of ginger, cut into 2
1 shallot, peeled and cut in to 4
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 large red chilli, cut into 4
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
5 tablespoons of plain flour
1 egg
Pinches of salt and pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

On a normal setting, blend all ingredients, except for the prawns. Change the blender setting to 'pulse'. Add the prawns and pulse lightly until coarsely chopped (not a smooth paste). Refrigerate the mix until it has firmed-up (1 hour approx). Remove from fridge and using a dessert spoon, form the mix into cakes. In batches, fry in a wok or large pan on a fairly high heat until prawn cakes are golden and crunchy on the outside. Transfer to a roasting dish and keep warm in the oven until all prawn cakes are fried. Serve with the Carrot and Chilli Pickle.


Carrot and Chilli Pickle


2 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
2 large chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 teaspoons of demerara sugar
Pinch of celery seed
Pinches of salt and pepper
5-6 fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Combine all of the ingredients (not the fresh coriander) and leave in the refigerator for flavours to infuse and amalgamate (2 hours approx). Tear the coriander leaves and sprinkle on top, just before serving.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Toad-in-the-Hole with Onion Gravy

Regardless of the title of this post, no amphibian was harmed in the making of this dish.

Toad-in-the-hole is a British classic, and rightly so. Sausages in Yorkshire pudding, served with onion gravy, has to be the perfect comfort food for a Sunday winter's night.

Make sure you buy the best sausages you can afford - the Yorkshire pudding is adding carbohydrate, so the less bready-filler in the sausage the better. 80% pork is ideal.

Toad is a budgeters dream, and even with a rich onion gravy, this still only costs £2 per serving.

Serves 4



1 kg good quality sausages
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 large eggs
100g plain flour
250ml milk
Pinches of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200c. Place sausages in a large roasting pan with the oil and cook until half done (approx 10 minutes). Mix the eggs and flour in a bowl until you have a thick paste. Add the milk bit-by-bit until you have a batter the thickness of double cream. Add the salt and pepper. Take the sausages out of the oven and quickly pour the batter into the roasting tray, ensuring the tray's temperature doesn't drop too much. Roast until the batter is golden and risen (approx 25 minutes). Serve with the onion gravy and maybe some steamed vegetables.


Onion Gravy


2 large onions, sliced and cut into half-moons
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of plain flour
150ml red wine
300ml chicken or vegetable stock

In a covered saucepan, cook the onions with the oil and salt and pepper on a low heat until the onions are golden and translucent (30 minutes approx). Add the thyme and plain flour and form into a paste. Cook the paste for a further 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the red wine bit-by-bit to ensure the sauce is lump-free, and turn the heat up. Boil away the alcohol and then add the stock. Cook the gravy for a further 10 minutes.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Pig's Trotters in Chinese Broth with Noodles

I have never bought and cooked pig's trotters before, but I certainly do love eating them. For my first foray into trotter territory, I have decided to adapt a roast pork (char sui) noodle soup recipe, which I ate in Hong Kong a couple of years ago - to rapturous delight.

Use beef bones and chicken or vegetable stock to make the broth, because I think that using pork bones and pork stock will make the finished dish a bit too... piggy. Besides, a combination of stock flavourings is very authentic to the Hong Kong one-stock-fits-all philosophy, very nicely.

Pig's trotters are a total bargain. £1.70 per kilo, makes this dish a total bargain too, at £1.50 per generous bowlful.

Serves 4


1kg pigs trotters
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder
3 large beef bones
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 thumbs of ginger, coarsely chopped
3 whole garlic cloves
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 litres chicken or vegetable stock
50ml rice wine or dry sherry
50ml dark soy sauce
Pinch of black pepper
100g dried egg noodles
2 spring (salad) onions finely chopped
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 160c and spread the trotters with the half of the oil, Chinese five spice powder and sugar. Roast the trotters until dark in colour (2 hours approx). While the trotters are roasting, place the beef bones in a large stock pot with the rest of the oil and cook over a moderate heat until the bones slightly toast (approx 10 minutes). Add the onions, ginger, garlic and soften slightly to release their fragrance (approx 3 minutes). Add the stock, wine or sherry, star anise, pepper and cinnamon stick and boil until the trotters have finished roasting (approx 2 hours), and then strain the stock. Pour the stock back into the pot. Take the trotters out of the oven, and with a cleaver or big knife, cut them each into 4-5 pieces each. Add the trotters and the noodles to the stock and cook until the noodles are soft (approx 5 minutes). Serve the soup with a sprinkling of spring onions and fresh coriander.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

15 Minute Emergency Pate

Friends will be here in 15 minutes and while the drinks are chilling in the fridge, you don't really want to serve them crisps, right? (Not to say that my friends don't like crisps, but they hardly satisfy my needy, attention-seeking, eager-to-please, show-off nature.)

Don't worry - this speedy pate recipe will save the day. Make sure you have liver in the freezer and the rest is easy. Any liver will do, I just happened to have lamb's liver in stock, but chicken, calves or even ox liver would be fine. But regardless of its last-minute qualities, this pate is absolutely delicious and stacks up well against any of my other pate recipes.

Lamb's liver is selling at £3.20 per kilo, so this tasty culinary stalwart comes in at a wallet-friendly £1 per serving.

Serves 4


1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
25g butter
500g lamb's liver
1 tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
25 ml brandy
Pinches of salt and pepper
100ml double cream

Crispbreads and pickled gherkins to serve

If frozen, leave the liver in a bowl of water while you get on with the next stage. Fry the onion and garlic in the butter on a moderate heat until translucent. Add the mixed herbs, brandy and the defrosted liver and cook until the liver is coloured on the outside, but just pink in the middle (approx 7 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mix to a blender and add the cream. Pulse until smooth but not liquified. Transfer from the blender to a serving dish and place in the freezer until firm (approx 6 minutes). Serve with the crispbreads and pickled gherkins.

Pouting and Pancetta Fishcakes with Sauce Gribiche

Pouting is a firm-fleshed white fish, and at £4 per kilo, a third of the price of cod. Pancetta is the perfect partner for pouting - pork and fish have been delicious bedfellows for many years - think of scallops with black pudding, or paella.

Gribiche is a coarse-textured, eggy, tartare-style sauce, easy to make and partners these pancetta and fishcakes perfectly. Think bacon and eggs.

Fish is fashion, and no doubt pouting will rise in price as soon as the public decides that it is undervalued, so buy it now. But when the price does inevitably rise, you can substitute the pouting in these fishcakes for lemon sole, flounder or any other firm white fish.

Serve with a green salad, and this dish still comes in at £2 per serving.

Serves 4 (12 fishcakes)

Pouting and Pancetta Fishcakes


100g pancetta, cut into 1cm dice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
400g pouting fillets, cut into 1cm dice
1 small potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
4 tablespoons of plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
3 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
Pinches of salt and pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

In a pan on a moderate heat, fry the pancetta in the oil until crisp, but not too dark. Transfer to a bowl and add the other ingredients (not the sunflower/vegetable oil). Fold everything together, making sure not to mash the ingredients. Form into 12 fishcakes, dust with a little extra flour and put them in one layer on a plate. Place plate in the fridge to firm up the fishcakes (approx 1 hour). Preheat a pan or wok to a moderate heat and fry the fishcakes in batches, until golden and crunchy on the outside - the oil should come halfway up the fishcakes. Turn once, but try not to move them in the pan too much while cooking. Serve with the sauce gribiche and a green salad.


Sauce Gribiche


200g of good quality, shop-bought mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of chopped gherkins or cornichons
1 tablespoon of small capers
1 teaspoon each of freshly finely chopped chervil, tarragon and parsley
Pinches of salt and pepper
2 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped coarsely

Mix everything, apart from the eggs, together in a bowl. Finally fold the eggs through the sauce, taking care not too break them up any further. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Christmas Chutney

Making presents at Christmas has become cool again. It was OK when you were 9 years old, when you made your non-smoking mum an ashtray. It wasn't OK for 2 decades after that, but now it's OK again. As long as you make people things which: (a) they can eat; (b) don't necessarily have to be eaten within a week; (c) they wouldn't generally make themselves, and (d) are packaged attractively in re-usable receptacles, like a kilner jar.

Chutnies fill all these criteria. And this chutney is so delicious and unique that your happy recipient won't even notice that it only cost you £1 per jar to make. The kilner jars will cost you an extra £2 each, which means you are still on budget.

Makes 8 x 250g kilner jars


8 large cooking apples, peeled cored and roughly diced
400g luxury mincemeat
500ml cider vinegar
750g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of mixed spice
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of black onion (nigella) seeds
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a large pan or wok and cook uncovered, on moderate heat to start with, and then a low heat, until the apples have disintegrated and the chutney has thickened  and coloured to a demerara sugar colour (3-4 hours approx). Decant to the sterilised kilner jars and place the jars in a roasting pan, half filled with water. Place pan in preheated 140c oven and bake for 20 mins to create a vaccuum.

Tell your friends not to eat the chutney for two weeks, to allow the vinegar to relax and the flavour to mature. The chutney will then keep, unopened, in a cool larder for 6 months; or 6 weeks, in a fridge, after opening.

N.B.When your recipient wishes to open the jar, they must use pliers to pull the rubber tab jutting from the ring, which will release the vacuum (who knew?).


How to Sterilise Kilner Jars

Dismantle the jars, by separating the rubber and metal parts, and place all parts directly on your oven shelf. Heat in a 140c oven for 30 minutes. Re-assemble the jars, making sure you do not touch the inside of the jars with your bare hands.

Beef Rendang with Flatbreads (Roti Prata)

Roti prata cafes are working people's restaurants dotted all over Singapore. But it's not unusual for the city's cognoscenti  to meet on the weekend at these vibrant, old-fashioned establishments at 3am, after a night of bar-hopping and clubbing, to eat flatbreads with different curries, washed down with local beer. And one of the best loved curries is beef rendang - an Indonesian, coconut flavoured, rich dry curry with a fragrant, sour edge. Incredible.

In my pre-Mrs Ribeye days, I would love nothing more than to take a trip to a Far East destination and experience life off the tourist trail, at one of these types of places. I miss them. Who knows, I may even take Mrs Ribeye one day...

At my local Oriental cash and carry, beef shin is selling at an amazing £3.75 per kilo. Ideal for this dish, and meaning that this dish comes in (including the flatbreads) at a hard-to believe £1.75 per serving.

Instead of the flatbreads, you may wish to serve the rendang with my coconut rice recipe, topped with fried onions.

Serves 4

Beef Rendang


For the spice paste:

The flesh of a quarter of a coconut
2 stalks of lemon grass
Thumb of ginger or galangal
1 large shallot or onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 red chillies
2 dried chillies
1 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander seed and ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Other ingredients:

1kg of beef shin, cut into 2cm dice
1 can of coconut milk
200ml water
1 tablespoon of tamarind paste
2 stalks of lemon grass, bashed
2 tablespoons of demerara or palm sugar
Juice of 1 lime

Blend the spice paste ingredients and place in a large pan or wok over a moderate heat. Add the beef and lightly brown, until the spices become fragrant. Add the other ingredients and turn heat down to low. Cook until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated (3 hours approx). serve with the roti prata, or coconut rice.


Roti Prata


300g plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
50g melted butter, plus 50g extra for coating
100ml milk at room temperature
4 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil

Mix the flour salt and butter in a bowl until you have breadcrumbs. Work in the milk until you have a sticky, pliable dough. Transfer to a board and knead until the dough has lost its stickiness (approx 10 mins). Divide into 8 balls and coat with more butter. Leave to rest in a cool place (not the fridge) for 4-5 hours. Preheat a pan with a half tablespoon of oil, per flatbread, until blisteringly hot. Roll each ball to a paper thickness and fry one-at-a-time on each side until the bread is puffed-up and toasted. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.

'Paella-riffic' Seafood, Chorizo and Chicken Rice

Purists would balk at me calling this 'paella', so in the spirit of being agreeable, I won't. They are right of course - an authentic paella does not contain tomatoes, and has its golden colour bestowed on it by saffron - but this dish is delightful nonetheless. And because it doesn't contain saffron (more expensive per ounce than pure gold) you can spend more money where it counts, on seafood, chorizo and chicken, and still come in under budget.

With my version of this dish, it would be better for you not to use paella or risotto rice, because, in this recipe, I have taken out all of the stirring and stock stages necessary to achieve a creamy texture. Who has the time? Instead, use ordinary long grain rice and cook it using the absorption method. Quicker, easier, cheaper - and no less delicious. Who says you can't have it all?

Cost? On budget, at £3 per serving.

Serves 4


4 free range large chicken legs (not just drumsticks)
100g chorizo, sliced into 1cm rounds
25ml olive or sunflower oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2cm dice
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
200g long grain or basmati rice
Twice the volume of rice, of either chicken or vegetable stock
400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
100g frozen peas
375g cooked seafood cocktail (squid, prawns, mussels)
Pinches of salt and pepper
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a large pan or wok, fry the chicken on the skin side only, over a moderate heat until lightly browned and almost cooked through. Add the chorizo for a couple of minutes until crisp and then remove both chicken and chorizo from the pan and set aside. In the juices, add the pepper, onion and garlic and gently fry until translucent (5 minutes approx). Add the cayenne pepper, thyme and rice and stir until all grains are covered in the oil. Add the stock and tomatoes and cook, uncovered, until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, peas and seafood cocktail and fold through the rice until the peas are cooked and the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, arrange all components symetrically in the pan and sprinkle the parsley over the finished dish just before serving.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Middle Eastern Lamb Shwarma Wraps with Cacik (Tzatziki)

Lamb breast is to be found in your supermarket, neatly rolled-up with string into a roasting joint. Revolting, because the meat on the inside of the roll is left flaccid, rubbery and tasteless. So, unroll it! When you allow all surfaces of this bargain-basement cut of meat to be exposed to a marinade and then left to slow cook under a grill or on a barbecue, I guarantee that all other lamb dishes will seem bland and unexciting in comparison.

If you go to a shwarma (not a doner kebab) take-away restaurant, you'll see the vertical spit layered-up with succulent slices of lamb. Recreate this at home and your house will be the first place your friends will want to spend the evening, not the last place to stagger to after a night out drinking.

Lamb breast is cheap cheap cheap, at £4.20 per kilo. Even with factoring-in the cost of wraps, cacik and salad, this still comes in at £2 per serving. And, unlike a take-away, you know from where the meat originated - and from which breed of animal.

Serves 4

Lamb Shwarma


1kg lamb breast
1 tablespoon of dried mint, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil

Unroll the lamb breast and cut into 4cm square pieces. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and then add the lamb, rubbing the marinade well in. Leave in the fridge for minimum 2 hours, preferably overnight. Thread each piece of lamb onto skewers, ensuring a tight fit together. Baste the marinade over the skewers and set aside while you make the cacik.


Cacik (Tzatziki)


300ml natural unsweetened Greek yoghurt
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 clove of garlic, minced
Half a cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
25ml olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until the wrap is ready to be assembled.


Assembling the wrap


I small red cabbage, finely chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
Half a cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
I tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper
4 large wraps

Mix the salad vegetables with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a bowl. Cook the lamb under a low to moderate grill, or on a slow-burning barbecue, until slightly charred on the outside, and cooked-through on the inside (approx 1 hour), basting regularly with the marinade. Dry-fry the wraps one at a time until slightly toasted on one side. On the toasted side, heap a quarter of the salad and a quarter of the de-skewered lamb. Top with a good dollop of the cacik and wrap into a cigar. Wrap in foil to prevent spillage, and to keep warm while the other three wraps are being assembled. Serve in the foil wrapping.

Japanese-Style Grilled 'n' Chilled Aubergines

I totally stole this recipe from Yo Sushi (the it's-more-authentic-London-than-authentic-Japanese sushi chain), or at least, I adapted it from Yo Sushi, because I have never asked what goes into their roasted aubergine dish - I just guessed.

I adore Yo Sushi's Blue Monday deal, where all plates off the conveyor belt are a much-reduced £2.20. You would think that the cheaper prices would mean a cheaper bill for Mrs Ribeye and me, but NOOOOOO! We just eat twice the amount. Actually, we sometimes always eat more than twice the amount.

This recipe makes a fantastic starter to any meal - not just sushi or teryaki; or a fabulous summery side dish for a barbecue lunch. Just make sure you slice the aubergines finely (half centimetre) across, until you have delicate rounds - otherwise the texture will be all wrong.

You can also serve this dish warm with my Easy Chicken Katsu Curry dish (recipe to follow very soon).

As with all side dishes and starters, you would hope and expect the cost to be low, and you'd be absolutely right. This treat is under £1 per serving.

Serves 4


2 large firm aubergines
50ml olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper
50ml dark soy sauce
25ml toasted sesame oil
Thumb of fresh ginger, finely grated
2 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

Slice the aubergines into half centimetre rounds and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them on a ridged or flat grill pan, on a moderate heat, in a single layer in the olive oil in batches until they are soft and cooked through. You are not looking to colour them too much. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil and grated ginger into a dressing and liberally douse the aubergines. Sprinkle each one with the spring onions. Lay them in a single layer on a serving dish and chill. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds immediately before serving.

Apple Strudel 'Samosas'

Man oh man, do I love messing around with classic recipes. In this one, I not only ruin the traditional concept of a samosa, but also the apple strudel! What a day!

Samosas are triangular pastries normally containing savoury spicy fillings - but who says they won't make a brilliant dessert?

Not me. By loading these individual filo parcels with a traditional strudel filling, not only are these crisper than a bog-standard, family sized strudel, but they look so attractive. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

Tomorrow: chocolate covered salt cod fritters (just kidding, honest).

Serve 2 per person, at a rock-bottom £1 per serving.

Serves 4 (8 samosas)


4 shop-bought filo pastry sheets
100g melted butter
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
50g sultanas
4 tablespoons demerara sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons creme fraiche (for serving)

Preheat oven to 200c. Using a sharp knife and leaving the filo sheets layered togther to ensure uniformity, slice the sheets lengthwise until you have 8 long strips. Take an eighth of the apple, sultanas, sugar and cinnamon and place in a pile at the end of one strip. Brush the rest of the exposed strip with the melted butter. Take a corner of the strip and fold it over the filling until you have a neat triangle at the end of the strip. Keep folding all the way down the strip until you have created a samosa. Repeat, until you have 8 similar samosas. Place them on a large oiled baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Place a large dollop of creme fraiche with each serving.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Salade Picardine with Pan-Fried Chicken Livers

Laon in the Picardy region of northern France is a tiny town with a beautiful cathedral and a town square surrounded by three ordinary-looking cafes. Hardly the sort of place that  I would have expected to eat a lunch that would stay in my memory for the best part of fifteen years, due to its utter perfection in composition and execution.

Chicken liver salad? Surely not? Well, it certainly wasn't the half carafe of cold, rough vin rouge, or the pack of Gitanes (in my smoking days) casually strewn next to the Ricard-advertised, slightly charred plastic ashtray on the table that warped my sense of proportion, so the salad it must have been.

Laon is the sort of place you probably only stop at on a southern drive through France from England, on a tour to your French Riviera destination - but trust me, I'll be making this stop on my next trip.

Chicken livers are unbelievably cheap to buy, and probably my favourite offal of all. This dish, which is an ideal year-round lunch, winter dinner starter or summer dinner main course, costs a 'fantastique' £1.50 per serving to produce. Wine and cigarettes are extra.

Serves 4


2 large waxy potatoes, such as Desiree
6 tablespoons of olive oil
500g chicken livers, untrimmed
2 tablespoons of dried Herbes de Provence, or mixed herbs
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 large round (soft) lettuce
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into half-rounds
1 red onion, cut into half-moons

Preheat your oven to 150c. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1cm dice. Fry the potatoes, on a moderate heat, in half of the oil until golden and crunchy. Set aside and keep warm in the oven. Sprinkle the herbs over the chicken livers until they have formed a thick coating. Turn the heat under the pan to the highest setting and with the other half of the oil, fry the chicken livers for 3 minutes approx in the blisteringly hot pan, turning once. The livers should be pink in the middle. Create the salad by arranging a layer of lettuce leaves on a lareg serving platter, and dotting them with the potato cubes. Scatter the tomatoes and onion over the potatoes and then place the herb-encrusted chicken livers evenly over the entire dish. Sprinkle vinaigrette dressing over the salad just before serving - and before the potatoes and livers have dropped too much in temperature.


French Vinaigrette Dressing


50ml sunflower oil
25ml red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix well and sprinkle on salad.

Breaded, Exotically-Spiced Pork Chops with Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala)

Breaded pork is normally associated with German cuisine. However, adding Indian-influenced spices to the pork chops' breadcrumb coating and serving them with chickpea curry (chana masala), you will have an explosion of tastes and textures that your friends will presume came straight out of a top-notch Asian fusion restaurant menu.

Look for large pork chops with pinkish 'eye' meat and a slightly darker-surrounding layer of flesh nearer the fat layer and you'll have a contrast of flavour and textures with every chop. For the chana masala, canned chickpeas are not only perfectly acceptable, but are also preferable to the dried variety - which will need pre-soaking.

Pork chops are delicious and offer excellent value for money, which means that this dish, including the chickpea curry, comes in at £2.50 per serving.

NB. Matzo meal is preferable to breadcrumbs, and can be bought from kosher grocers, or in most large supermarkets. Garam masala is a dried spice blend and can be found in the dried herbs and spices section of all Asian grocers and almost all large supermarkets.

Serves 4

Spiced Pork Chops


4 large pork chops or loin steaks
3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons of medium matzo meal or breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of chili powder
Pinches of salt and pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil for shallow frying

Preheat oven to 150c. Add half of the garam masala, chili powder and salt and pepper to the flour and half to the matzo meal. Take 3 plates and place the flour, eggs and matzo meal onto a plate each. Coat the pork chops, one-by-one in the flour, until completely covered, and then coat with the beaten egg. Then, lay a chop onto the breadcrumbs and ensure that you have completely covered it by sprinkling some breadcrumbs on top and then turning it over and repeating once or twice more. Finally, shallow fry two chops at at time on a moderate heat, in the oil, until crisp all over and cooked within (approx 8 minutes, turning once). The oil should come up to half the thickness of the chops. Transfer to an oven dish, in one layer only, to keep warm in the pre-heated oven, until you have finshed cooking all four chops. Serve with the chickpea curry.


Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala)


1 onion, cut into thin half moons
Thumb of ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon each of chili powder, turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander
400g can of chickpeas with water, and refill the can with extra water
400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
Pinches of salt and pepper
Fresh coriander, finely chopped, for sprinkling

Add the onion, ginger, garlic and spices to the oil in a pan or wok, and gently fry on a moderate heat until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, extra water and salt and pepper and cook on a low to moderate heat until the curry is thick and unctuous (1 hour approx). Sprinkle with the fresh coriander just before serving.

Belgian Mussel Chowder

Who doesn't love moules mariniere? This recipe is not just an homage to the great Belgian dish - it's an improvement! By adding just the mussel meats, leaving out the shells and turning the dish into a rich soup, you get all the flavour, less preparation before, less mess and clearing-up afterwards, and for some crazy reason, it's cheaper! What's not to love?

While we're talking about cheaper; cooked mussel meats are around half the price of the netted, shelled ones, at £2 per 375g, which means that this delightful seafood concoction comes in under a fantastic £2 per serving.

For a substantial lunch or light dinner, serve with The Easiest Bread in the World.

Serves 4


1 large onion, finely chopped
4 celery sticks, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Large knob of butter
1 tablespoon of plain flour
350ml dry white wine
350ml water or vegetable stock
Pinches of salt and pepper
750g cooked mussel meats
150ml double cream or creme fraiche
Handful of parsley, finely chopped

Sweat the  onion, celery, garlic and butter in a large pan on a moderate heat until the vegetables are translucent. Add the flour to the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the wine and stock and bubble away the alcohol  (approx 5-10 minutes). Add the mussels and the cream/creme fraiche and gently fold everything together until the mussels are heated through (approx 3 minutes). Take the chowder off the heat and sprinkle over the parsley, allowing it to slightly wilt in the residual heat. Serve immediately.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Easy Lasagna Pasta Bake

All those layers can make cooking a conventional lasagna a time-consuming architectural effort, rather than a 3 minutes to build, aesthetically-pleasing construction that this easy bake recipe offers.

Also, since a regular lasagna features sheets of pasta, rather than the conchiglie (pasta shells) in this recipe, presentation can be a bit... slidy. I can't think of a better word for what happens when you use a knife and a serving spoon to portion a family-sized lasagna and make it look presentable on a plate.

This recipe provides excellent value for money, at a wallet-friendly £2 per serving.

Serves 4

Beef Ragu


1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500g ground beef
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 large glass of red wine
400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
Pinches of salt and black pepper

Chop the vegetables finely and place them with the beef and olive oil in a large saucepan or wok. Brown on a low to moderate heat until all water has evaporated and the mixture is lightly frying in the oil (approx 30 minutes). Add the wine and herbs and allow to evaporate. Add the tomatoes and refill the can with water and also add to the pan with the salt and pepper. Cook uncovered until the sauce is thick and unctuous (approx 1 further hour, maybe a little more), making sure you stir every now and then to prevent sticking.

Bechamel Sauce


6 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of plain flour
500ml milk
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix the oil and flour in a saucepan and cook on a low to moderate heat until the flour is absorbed and the paste is cooked through (approx 10 minutes), stirring every minute or so to ensure ir doesn't burn. Add a tenth of the milk and stir vigorously until the paste thickens to a dough-like consistency. Add another tenth of the milk and repeat. Repeatedly add milk until you have a smooth sauce. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Cover the pan with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming on the sauce until you are ready to construct the lasagna bake.

Constructing the Lasagna Bake


500g conchiglie, or other pasta shapes
1 tablespoon of salt
100g grated parmesan or gran padano cheese
Black pepper

Preheat your oven at 240c. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water and the salt until three-quarters cooked (the pasta must have a very slightly hard centre). Mix the pasta with the beef ragu in an oven-proof casserole dish. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the pasta/ragu mix. Sprinkle the cheese over the bechamel sauce and grind plenty of black pepper over the cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling (15 minutes approx).

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cured Salmon with Austrian Potato Salad

Vienna is great and so is its potato salad, but I have never eaten gravadlax (cured salmon) there - and I'm not even sure the Viennese are aware how good gravadlax tastes with their potato salad.

The thing is, I ate gravadlax in a restaurant in London and it came with a fabulous dressing, which tasted exactly like the dressing on an Austrian potato salad. Eureka! Put them together and you'll have a delicious combination of flavours and a substantial meal. Potato salad goes better with fish than a pork schnitzel (the traditional Austrian accompaniment to potato salad) , and salmon goes better with potatoes than a green salad (the traditional English accompaniment to salmon), anyway.

Buy salmon fillet from a reputable supermarket or fishmonger and look for firm flesh and a nice marbling of white fat. The curing will take care of any health concerns you may have about eating uncooked fish.

Cost? Normally well under the £3 mark, but today I bought salmon at a steal at £6.49 per kilo, and so today the unbelievable cost per serving of this luxurious dish (including the potato salad) was £2.

Serve with a simple tomato and spring onion salad, a pickled gherkin and crispbreads for an authentic Austrian/Scandinavian fusion feast.

Serves 4

Cured Salmon


800g salmon fillet
50g sugar
50g salt

Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl, and using your hands, rub into the salmon fillet on all sides. Sprinkle half of the remaining salt/sugar cure onto a sheet of clingfilm and place the salmon onto it. Sprinkle the remaing cure on top of the salmon and then wrap the salmon tightly in two layers of clingfilm and place into a shallow dish. Put the dish in the fridge for 2-3 days, or until the salmon has darkened in colour and firmed-up. Unwrap the salmon, discarding any brine which may have collected in the dish. Lightly rinse the salmon in cold water to get rid of any excess surface cure. Serve 200g of cured salmon per person, in one delicious slab each.


Austrian Potato Salad


800g peeled waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte or Desiree
8 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of mustard
1.5 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
Handful of fresh dill, finely chopped, with a pinch reserved for sprinkling
Pinches of salt and pepper

Boil the potatos and slice into 1cm discs. When still warm, mix the other ingredients together into a dressing and add them to the potato discs. Fold the dressing gently into the potatoes and finish with a light sprinkling on top of the reserved dill. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Easiest Bread in the World

Bread is cheap, filling and delicious when homemade, expensive when bought from an artisan bakery and rubbish when bought from an English supermarket. We don’t tend to regularly make bread at home, much because it seems like such an arduous task – all that kneading, rising and proving etc.


This recipe is not hard to follow, difficult to accomplish or boring to do. When done, you feel like a baker, which, for some reason, feels very very cool. And nothing like working at Greggs.

No yeast, no kneading and no proving. What’s not to love? In fact, the less you do, the better the result.

The cost? £1.50 for the best loaf you'll ever taste.


300g of any type of flour (but not self-raising)
1.5 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
1.5 teaspoons of salt
300ml buttermilk or plain yoghurt

Preheat oven to 200c. Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredient and mix very quickly with a fork. Tip contents onto non-stick baking sheet and shape into a single rough mound. Bake on middle shelf for 30mins. Cool on a wire rack.

NB. The dry and wet ingredients should be mixed for no more than 30 seconds, so that the bicarbonate of soda is all fresh when it goes into the oven. The mound on the baking sheet should look like a pile of doughy lumps. Do not smooth it. The oven will make it beautiful.

It does not matter which liquid you use, as long as it’s interesting. Try Guinness for a grown up Irish variation or fruit yoghurts for a sweet version – great with butter and jam for tea. As long as you use the same number of grams of flour to millilitres of the wet ingredient (basically a ratio of 1:1), and adjust the bicarbonate of soda and salt accordingly, you will have quick delicious bread you can make every day.

Truly Splendid Thai Spicy Chicken with Coconut Rice

I LOVE having friends over for dinner! All the preparation, while drinking a beer and listening to loud 80's rock music on my stereo has to be my all-time biggest passion. My wife, Mrs Ribeye (not a cook, in any way at all), thinks I'm nuts.

You will find my recipes easy to make (especially after your third vodka cranberry) quick to prepare and, most importantly, authentic to the region they come from. We have travelled to lands far and wide to share with you our favourite street food, bistro fare and prix fixe menus, so that you can experience some delicious exotic treats and show your friends what a wonderful host you are!

Why 'under £3 per serving'? Well, 'austerity' is my new buzz-word. I love it. As in:

'Can you come to my works drinks tonight with me? It's Paul's birthday. You know Paul?'
'Sorry darling, but no. I'm feeling like I need to embrace 'austerity' at the moment.'

You've got to love that austerity.

NB. I never buy 'value' ingredients. I prefer to buy cheaper cuts of good quality meat or free range chicken than buy a bright pink sirloin steak or a battery farm chicken breast. Anyway, treated correctly, these cheaper cuts are far more tasty.

For my first recipe, here is a simple but delicious start to my new blog. Mrs Ribeye and I went to Koh Samui on our honeymoon and fell in love... with this chicken dish. So to re-ignite the romance, I bought the ingredients from Church Street market in north London and after a few minutes cooking in my kitchen, was transported back to the Lamai Town street cafe where it all began...

Don't worry about the repugnant smell while it's cooking - it's not you, it's just the shrimp paste. I promise you that when it's finished cooking, you'll just love the authentic, fragrant, savoury taste (but open the kitchen window for a minute or two before the wife comes home from those works drinks).

My costings for this culinary treat, came to around £2 per generous serving. That's right, £2.

Serves 4

Thai Spicy Chicken


Spice Paste:
1 large shallot or medium onion.
Thumb-sized piece of ginger/galangal
3 cloves of garlic
3 stalks of lemon grass
2 red chillies
2 dried chillies
2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon of shrimp paste
1 tablespoon of fresh or powdered turmeric
6 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

Remaining ingredients:
1 kg bone-in, free range chicken thighs/legs
Pint of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Crush, pound or mince the spice paste ingredients and then fry in a wok or large frying pan on a moderate heat until the paste is cooked through, but not burnt (approx 10 minutes).

Add the chicken and brown it gently all over.

Add the water and salt and leave uncovered for an hour approx, on a low to moderate heat, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.


Coconut Rice


225g Thai or Basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
Boiling water from the kettle
1 teaspoon of salt

Start preparing the rice when the chicken has about half an hour left to cook.

With most rice dishes, ensure that you use two parts liquid to one part rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed. However, with this recipe, the coconut milk is fairly thick, so a 2.5:1 (two and a half to one) liquid to rice ratio would be ideal.

Boil a kettle of water. Place the rice in a large jug, measure with your eye the level it came to in the jug, and tip into a saucepan. Put the coconut milk into the same jug and then add enough boiling water to make up approx 2.5 times the volume of rice, gauging the volume by using your eye-measuring line you used for the rice. Pour into the saucepan to join the rice and add the salt.

Cook on a low to moderate heat, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick. When the rice looks almost cooked (approx 20 minutes), put clingfilm over the saucepan and take it off the heat. In 5 further minutes, the rice will be perfect.

Plert-plern gap ('Enjoy')!