Monday, 26 March 2012

Simple Tomato Sauce

One thing i cant stand is buying ready made pasta sauces, not because i think the good ones are bad, but just because making your own is the simplest thing in the world and at about 25p/portion you really cant complain.

This is pretty much my base sauce but you can add anything you want - bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, olives

Tin of chopped tomatoes - try and get nice ones (Ciro, Napolina) but cheap ones are fine you will just have to cook them down more.
1-2 cloves of garlic - smashed
Handful of fresh Basil - torn*
Pinch of chilli flakes
Dash of Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Gently heat the olive oil, and add the smashed garlic until it softens. Add the splash of balsamic and let it cook for a couple of seconds then add the chillies and chopped tomatoes, season and then most importantly let the sauce cook down for at least 15 minutes.
When it has thickened and is a nice deep red add the basil and serve with good pasta a drizzle of olive oil, add cheese for a tasty addition.

*I will rant about fresh herbs because they are so much better. Dried ones taste of nothing (oregano is probably the one exception). Dried Spices are brilliant, but fresh basil is not difficult to keep, even in my student flat I normally have basil and coriander at least.

Zilometer- 7/10
Convenience- 9.5/10

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce

A lot of my culinary influences are based on my travels, and this one is from the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

I will try and keep it as simple as possible.

Marinated Chicken Satay - 
For the Marinade:
1 knob of ginger - diced
2 Chillies (birdseye/thai chillies are the best for this)- Sliced
2 Cloves of garlic - Sliced
Sprinkle of Turmeric
2 tablespoons of Sesame oil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
A couple dashes of Tabasco
A tablespoon of Sugar - (Palm Sugar is best but any will do)
A Hand-full of Coriander
Juice of a lime

Chuck all of this into a container with 2 diced chicken breasts and mix - then leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Fry/griddle/BBQ the chicken until cooked all the way through.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
A mug of Salted Peanuts
1 onion - finely chopped
1 glove of garlic - finely chopped
1 Chilli
1 Tablespoon of dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 mug of Water
Juice of half a lime

In a frying pan toast the peanuts in a dash of sunflower oil for about 2 mins, then remove from the pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic until soft add chillies then the soy water and lime juice and add the peanuts back in.
Transfer the mixture into a sauce pan and using a hand-blender blend the mixture to a paste (keeping some lumps is preferable). Put the sauce pan back on the heat until the sauce thickens. Finish with some chopped coriander and some lime juice.

I hope you enjoy this taste of Asia.

My housemate Zil will rate my dishes,

Zilometer: 8/10

Kicking Off

Right, here goes.

In this first post i will be addressing one of the most important thing about cooking, the kit and prep.

Knifes: I use 2 knifes, a big one and a small one to put it simply. I use a Global G2 as my main chef's knife, but i think the best value for money is a Victorinox chef's knife. A good knife is essential not only for chopping but it will make your time in the kitchen much more enjoyable if you are not having to saw through an onion before you have even started.
Get a decent knife steel for sharpening - Top tip if the steel becomes dirty and starts to loose the grooves then soak it in vinegar, it will be as good as new.

Hand Blender: This is essential for making soups/sauces and are a cheap alternative to a blender.

Pans: Try and get some ovenproof frying pans but i realise this is a bit of luxury so a solid heavy bottomed pan.

These are the things i couldn't live without in the kitchen but to be honest, cooking is about you and enjoying it, so if you prefere to use a blunt knife a big blender, and plastic frying pans then go for it.

Obviously all the other things (chopping boards, graters etc) are no brainers.

Enjoy, this is going to be fun.