Mr T is Scottish- well, he was born in a place called Falkirk; it’s near Stirling – but he can’t even fake an “auch aye” these days. Nor does he like whisky. I know…it’s tough to imagine such a thing. Thankfully I’m happy to contribute to the profits of Scotland’s distilleries on his behalf.

There are some things from his heritage that remain constant – one of these is potato or tattie scones. (In Ireland, they’re known as “fadge” or “farls”.)

To refer to these as “scones” is, however, a misnomer. They don’t look anything like what you’d have at tea with jam and cream. For a start, they’re flat. They’re a little like a pikelet or a blini but rather than the batter being dropped into the pan, the dough is rolled flat – like a flatbread – and cut into “bannocks” (round plate-sized circle) and then “farls” (triangle-like segments). The farls are then cooked on a griddle – or “girdle” – or a pan.

Traditionally these would have been made with leftover potato. In her book Recipes from Scotland (1947), F. Marian McNeill explains: “In cottage homes, these scones are usually made just after the midday meal when the left-over potatoes are still warm.”

It’s actually important that the potato is still warm but not too hot – hot potatoes can absorb too much flour. Warm potatoes give you a light and floppy scone. Yesterday’s cold leftover potato results in an entirely different texture to the end result – something more like the ones that you buy in the supermarkets in England and Scotland. Still good, but different.

The type of potato you use is important too – the more floury the better. A waxy potato can result in a gluey, sticky dough.

If you’re cooking your potatoes from scratch, after they’re cooked and drained, let them sit in the pan for a little while to steam so they’re as dry as it’s possible for them to be before you start working with them.

So, how do you eat them?

I can only imagine how much a treat these must have been on a cold Scottish afternoon – spread with butter and jam and eaten with a cup of strong tea by a fireplace…preferably a fireplace that had a dog lying in front of it. We eat them like that – minus the cold Scottish afternoon and the fireplace, of course.

In Scotland they’re commonly served as an essential part of a proper cooked brekky – they fold beautifully to mop up runny egg and bacon fat.  Yes, that came out loud. Unfortunately, they tend not to last long enough for cooked breakfasts in our house – despite our best intentions.

They’re a Christmas tradition for us and making them is hubby’s Christmas Eve ritual. We have them with smoked salmon, sour cream and a little dill or red onion for breakfast while we’re unwrapping presents – accompanied by champagne, of course.img_5819Oh, and for those of you who’ve read Wish You Were Here, I lent Max the recipe – she prepares some of these in Chapter 2.

With apologies to gluten-free readers, here’s how it’s done.

What you need…

Just 3 things:

About 250g of well-mashed potato – hubby puts them through a potato ricer, but this isn’t essential.

1 tablespoon butter, about 25g I suppose

about ½ cup of plain flour

…oh, and some salt and pepper…

What you do with it…

While the spuds are slightly cooled (really hot potatoes will absorb too much flour and give you a doughy result), stir in the butter, and the seasoning.

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Work in as much flour as the potato will take to become a pliable dough. I do this with my hands, but hubby doesn’t like getting his dirty… It’s best to start with half the flour and then add a little more until you get the right consistency. Too little flour and they won’t roll, and too much and you’ll get a raw, floury taste rather than a light potatoey taste.

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Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll each out thinly. If you want to, use a plate to cut into a round bannock. As you can see from the pic below, we tend to take a more free-form approach. Cut into farls and prick the surface with a fork.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan, brush the surface with a little oil – although traditionally you wouldn’t have needed any fat on the girdle. Is it just me or does that sound very wrong? They should take about 3-4 minutes on each side – or until golden.

Once cooked, cool in a clean tea-towel…

or eat immediately with lots of butter…

 

 

I’ve had to admit to feeling a tad out of sorts this week. Just tired and grumpy with little enthusiasm for things I usually have lots of enthusiasm for.

That aside, there was plenty to like in the kitchen…

Something a little different with salmon…

Not really very different, it was more a twist on an old favourite – Salmon Nicoise. I simply pan-fried the salmon – although I was tempted to roast it with a little chilli and lemon juice – and served it with what I’m now calling the French potato salad. It’s one where I roast some kipfler potatoes, toss in some beans with about 10 minutes roasting time to go, and then dress it with Lyonnaise Salad dressing.

Something a little different with a spring roll…

Ok, this wasn’t in my kitchen, but rather Rice Boi’s at Mooloolaba’s Wharf. They do a spring roll with yellow curry chicken, banana and pickled ginger mayonnaise. Even though all the food at Rice Boi is amazing, I ordered these with some trepidation – I needn’t have been concerned. Super yum.

Getting ready for Christmas…

We love piccalilli – a spicy relish of chopped pickled veggies. It’s perfect for ham – and even more perfect to serve with Chrismas ham, which everyone knows tastes somehow better than ham at any other time of the year. It’s also fabulous with cheddar cheese and pork pies on a ploughman’s platter.

This year we decided to make our own. I sort of used this recipe by Jamie Oliver, but didn’t think so much about quantities – it was whatever I could get at the farmer’s market: half a head of cauliflower, a head of broccoli, a handful of long red chillis, a few long green chillis, a red capsicum, some French shallots – maybe 6? – a bag of green beans, a large bulb of fennel.

Anyways, it looks fabulous and the biggest challenge will be to leave it to sit in the cupboard for at least the next month.

Some comfort baking…

I’ve had a bit of an aha moment recently. I get asked a lot why it is that I like to bake when I don’t eat the results – I don’t tend to eat sweet foods…but don’t mind sugar in its fermented form as wine lol. Seriously though, my family can’t eat what I bake without all putting on too much weight so much of it gets sent into work with my daughter.

So why do I do it? I think it’s because baking comforts me when my brain is in overwhelm and overload mode – which it very often is. I juggle a day job with a career as an author. I also have an astrology website and am getting another food-based project off the ground – Clancy’s Campfire: glamping the camping.

Because I’m a “pantser” – do most things by the seat of my pants – baking with its weights and measures forces me to slow down, organise my thoughts (and my workspace) and focus on tasks.

This week I baked – or rather, didn’t bake – this cheesecake slice. The recipe is from a new (to me) website I found on Instagram, Cloudy Kitchen. I loved the look of these no-bake cheesecake slices with a berry coulis topping, and my family loves the taste.

I also churned up some strawberry ice cream with the egg yolks I had leftover (in the freezer) from the chocolate pavlova I made last week. Sadly my photo of this was very ordinary. Note to self – must learn how to style ice cream.

Until next time…

 

 

 

This is probably the most requested dessert I make – and why wouldn’t it be? Chocolate. Pavlova. Cream. Berries. It has all the food groups covered. Plus it’s a Nigella recipe – from her Forever Summer book – and that makes all the difference.

The addition of balsamic vinegar in this one is, a tad on the odd side, but Nigella uses some sort of acid in all her pavs. It helps the middle stay spongey and the outside crispy.

Another thing – the recipe calls for raspberries, but as you can see I used a combination of strawberries and blueberries. No one complained. Other than this, I haven’t changed Nigella’s recipe at all – it is perfect as it is.

I used this recipe in Wish You Were Here…although you would, of course, have to read the book to see where.

What You Need

For the base…
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300 grams caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped) – a few little chunks don’t matter
For the topping…
  • 500 millilitres double cream
  • 500 grams raspberries – or other berries
  • 3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated) – I use a knife and scrape it down into raggedly little bits

What you do with it

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan and line a baking tray with baking paper. This might sound weird, but I use a pizza tray for the purpose. It’s exactly the size of my pavlova plate so works a treat.
  • Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
  • Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate.
  • Fold everything in gently until the cocoa is mixed through. Spoon it on to a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm / 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top.
  • Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/130°C Fan and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
  • When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the berries. Sprinkle over the grated chocolate.

Wish You Were Here is available at Amazon and iBooks.

 

Every culture has one – a dish that makes you feel so good inside, it can’t possibly be wrong. A dish that tastes like it should be good for you, that it should be able to beat anything that ails you into submission. Folk food, family food, street food.

Pho, (pronounced “fur” or “fuh” for the uninitiated) is one such dish. It started life as a labourer’s breakfast and is now a lunchtime favourite.

It sounds simple enough- flat rice noodles, thinly sliced raw beef, a few herbs and spring onions, and then an aromatic boiling broth is poured over the lot to cook the meat. How hard could it be? But all pho is not created equal.

Good pho has hidden depths of flavour, enhanced by the chilli, lemon, basil and whatever you add to it. It’s the noodle soup of the Gods, and just by eating it you’re treating your body as a temple.

Whenever I feel as though I need a little self-care, as if the sniffle could possibly be threatening to turn into my annual head cold, as if I’ve been spending too much time doing tasks that I don’t find in the least rewarding and my brain is tired and my soul empty – that’s when I go for this soup.

The problem is, the really good pho – the pho that you get at really good pho places – involves making a stock from beef bones and simmering it for 4 hours. Of course, you get the benefit of the bone broth, but it’s not exactly a quick fix for a craving.

To this end, I’ve come up with my cheatie pho – the one that you go to after a long day when you don’t have time to think but you want to be healthy and feel warm and cosy on the inside. And there’s nothing to be guilty about here.

Ingredients

Yes, it’s quite a list but the aromatics tend to be ones we usually have on hand and the whole thing goes together quite quickly. As with all my recipes, this is a combo of a few ideas and the quantities are, shall we say, inexact. Taste the stock as you go and adjust to your own taste. This quantity feeds the 3 of us with leftover stock for lunch the next day. We find 225-250g steak is ample for the three of us for dinner.

If you want you can do this with chicken as well – just substitute good chicken stock for the beef and a couple of thinly sliced chicken breasts that you poach in the soup before serving.

For the stock

  • 2 litres beef stock
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • a good size knob of ginger – I use a piece about the length of my thumb – sliced but don’t worry about peeling it
  • 4 cloves garlic – smash with the back of a knife but don’t worry about peeling it
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 5 cardamon pods, bruised
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (you can add more later if it needs the salt)
  • a few whole cloves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (or some peeled lime rind)
  • If you have one, a stalk of lemongrass (bruised)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp grated palm sugar (or caster sugar)

For the soup

  • Noodles – you can use 200g rice vermicelli or fresh rice noodles – it’s up to you.
  • 250g beef fillet
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 long red chilli, de-seeded and sliced

To serve

  • 2 small chillies, sliced
  • fresh basil
  • lime cheeks

Making the stock:

  • Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in a couple of tablespoons of oil (I usually use rice bran) in a large saucepan. You want them to soften and colour just a little.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Once the stock is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 mins. Check for seasoning and add more fish sauce or some grated palm sugar to taste. We tend not to use the sugar. Squeeze in some lime or lemon juice if required.

Putting the soup together:

  • Place your noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Vermicelli normally needs about 10mins soaking.
  • Slice your beef as finely as possible. It will cook in your broth so needs to be as thin as it’s possible for beef to be. A good trick is to put it in the freezer for an hour or two – it’s much easier to slice when you take it out.
  • Strain your stock and return it to the pan, bringing it back to the boil.
  • Divide the noodles between the bowls, top with the onions, then the beef and pour over the hot soup. If the beef is thin enough, the stock should be enough to cook it to medium-rare.
  • Garnish with the spring onions and chillis.
  • Serve with the basil, sliced hot chillis and lime on the side.

This oaty ginger slice appeared in Wish You Were HereAs for the recipe itself? I can’t remember where I found it the first time – although it is a quintessential Kiwi classic. You’ll find it in bakeries all around the country – usually sold as Ginger Slice. To simply call it ginger slice, though, is to miss acknowledging the oats – which I think, add the texture this fudgily sweet slice needs.

Anyways, whatever you call it, here’s the recipe.

What you need

Before you start – preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease and line the sides of a slice tin – about 11cm x 34cm.

For the Base
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 165g rolled oats – not the instant variety
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 70g golden syrup

What you do with it…

Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into a medium bowl.

Add the coconut, rolled oats and brown sugar.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat.

Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Press the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

For the Icing
  • 290g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 120g butter
  • 115g golden syrup

What you do with it

Sift together the ginger and icing sugar into a small bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat.

Mix it all together until smooth.

Spread evenly over the cooked base.

Leave to set in the tin before cutting into small pieces.

These cookies come from Nigella’s “Nigella Express”. In that book, she describes them as the chocolatiest cookies you’re likely to come across. In this, as with most things flavourful, she’s absolutely right.

What you need

  • 125g dark chocolate – the good minimum 70% stuff
  • 150g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa sifted
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125g soft butter
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 50g white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg – cold from the fridge
  • 350g dark chocolate chips

What you do with it

Preheat the oven to 170C

Melt the 125g dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water

Stir the flour, bicarb, cocoa and salt together in a bowl

Cream the butter and sugar together

Add the melted chocolate to the creamed butter/sugar and mix together

Beat in the vanilla and the egg and then mix in the dry ingredients

Stir in the chocolate chips

Scoop out dollops of the mix – I use a 1/4 cup measure, but just a tad less than that – and place on the tray with plenty of space between them. Don’t be tempted to flatten out the balls.

Cook for about 18 minutes and test with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean.

Leave to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes – if you try and move them before this they’ll crumble and you’ll have no choice but to eat the crumbled bits. They will harden as they cool.

 

 

What is it about an Italian accent that makes everything sound better? It rolls around your tongue and makes you want to use hand gestures as you’re saying it. Penne con pollo e piselli. It sounds so much better than “pasta with smoked chook and peas, love.”

Regardless of how you say it, this is the perfect comfort food pasta for a Friday night. It makes no pretence towards being healthy, but sometimes you simply need to forget about that.

My daughter and I first tried this many years ago at Grossi Florentini’s Cellar Bar – the pasta bar for that fabulous Melbourne institution at the top end of Bourke Street. We were both devastated when they took it off the menu, but thankfully included it in their original recipe book – I say original recipe book because apparently there’s a new book coming out with Cellar Bar recipes in it. I’m just a little bit excited by that news. In any case, here’s the recipe. In the book it says it will feed 6 people – I’m not so sure about that…although maybe the recommended serving size is less than what we dish up. Ooops.

What you need

  • 300g smoked chicken breast cut into small cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 tsp good quality pesto
  • 100ml white wine
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 400ml cream
  • 150g peas, blanched in boiling water for a few minutes
  • 500g penne pasta
  • freshly grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano to serve

What you do with it

Saute the chicken pieces in a little olive oil until golden. Set aside.

In a pan deep enough to take all the remaining ingredients and have room for stirring, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the sage and pesto.

Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Stir in the chicken stock, cream and chicken, season to taste and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the peas to the sauce and cook a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and drain.

Toss the pasta with the sauce.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

 

 

 

With apologies to my Scottish husband, I’ve long held a belief that the Scots invented whisky to make haggis more palatable – or to make you forget that you’d eaten it. Yes, I know there are plenty of people out there who like haggis – my husband is one of them – but I am not. Regardless of the reason behind it, the Scots do whisky well – in fact, I consider myself just a wee bit of an expert on the subject. The Scots also do salmon – and that’s what this post is about.

Salmon Fishcakes

These are, I think, the best salmon cakes ever. Dead easy to make and seriously good to eat. We had them with some steamed curly kale and a vegetable stock based butter sauce, but they were equally as good the next night (or lunchtime) with a leafy green salad and a dollop of aioli (as above). You could also, if you wanted, posh them up with a creamy Noilly Prat sauce. You’d definitely need something like kale to cut through the richness if you use this sauce.

Anyways, you need equal quantities of salmon fillet and mashed potato. I used 450g of each. The mashed spud is just done the usual way with a little bit of butter and milk. As for the salmon, we’ll be roasting this, so preheat the oven to 230C and grease a roasting tin that’s big enough to hold the salmon fillets. Oh, before I forget, don’t forget to pin-bone the salmon – we’ve all seen that Masterchef episode where a bone has sent someone home. Don’t bother to skin it – it’s easier to do this after it’s been cooked.

Dot about 25g butter over the salmon, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, some salt and pepper and 1 long red chilli that you’ve de-seeded and diced finely. Bake the fish for between 5-8 minutes – you want it to be a little under-cooked in the centre. Once it’s out of the oven, let it stand for 5 minutes and then flake it.

Put the mashed potato into a bowl and stir through 4 tablespoons of finely chopped spring onions (just the white part – I used the green leaves to flavour a chicken stock for the best ever cock-a-leekie soup…but that’s another post entirely), and 3 tablespoons of chopped flatleaf parsley.

Add the fish and mix it through.

Dust your hands with flour and shape the mixture into patties. If you keep them about palm size, you should get 8. I like them a tad smaller than that.

Pop them onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and freeze for an hour or so – until they are solid enough to handle.

To finish the fishcakes, do what you’d usually do to crumb something – set out some flour in a shallow bowl, a couple of eggs whisked in another, and some panko breadcrumbs in another. Dip in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. If you want, you can freeze them at this stage. To cook afterwards, you’d need to bake them in a low oven (150C) for about 45mins.

If, however, you’re cooking now, simply fry them in sunflower oil (or whatever you have – just not olive oil) for 4-5 minutes until they’re nicely golden.

Serve with green veg or salad.

Noilly Prat Sauce

I discovered this sauce in a Rick Stein cookbook and just love it. It’s rich and creamy and works amazingly well with salmon. We have it the way the recipe intended – with grilled salmon, boiled chat potatoes, and the afore-mentioned curly kale – but when it’s cold outside or you want something a little special, we also have it with these fishcakes.

Pour 600ml stock (preferably fish, but you can use vegetable), 4 tablespoons double cream and 4 tablespoons of Noilly Prat (a dry white vermouth that you should have in the house for your martinis…just saying) into a medium-sized saucepan and bring it to the boil. Let it boil rapidly until you’ve reduced it by about three-quarters. Turn off the heat and keep warm until you’re almost ready to serve. Cut 85g of unsalted butter into little cubes and put them back in the fridge for now. You can also finely chop some fresh thyme – about a teaspoon worth.

When you are almost ready, bring the sauce back to a simmer and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Stir through the thyme and season to taste.

I’ve been cooking this curry for years – it’s one of my husband’s favourites.  It’s from Adam Liaw’s first book, Two Kitchens, but we’ve mucked about with the quantities and ingredients a tad – as you tend to do with recipes.

Some notes on the ingredients

With regards to ingredients, as per usual adjust to your own taste – especially where the chilli is involved. We usually use a few large red chillis and leave some of the small ones with their seeds intact. The large red chillis won’t add a lot of heat to the dish, but they will make your paste more orange than yellow – not a big deal.

Candlenuts are something you might not have come across before – and something we’ve, in the past, left out to adapt the recipe for nut allergies. Sure, they add some authenticity to the dish, but on the other hand, they’re not really missed. If you can’t get candlenuts – which are available mostly at Asian supermarkets – macadamia nuts add a similar texture.

Belacan (Belachan) is another one you might not have come across before. It’s truly foul smelling stuff…when I say foul, I mean, really foul.

It’s the sort of smell that seriously you wouldn’t know if it were off or not. Worse than smelly cheese, this doesn’t have the aroma of unwashed wet socks, but rather the stink of decaying shrimp. And that’s what it’s made from – fermented shrimp with a little salt. It’s then sun-dried and cut into blocks – although some stockists will sell it in a wet form that is also pretty manky.

Thankfully there are now some brands that are sold not only pre-roasted but pre-cut into individually sealed portion controlled sizes. Trust me, that is a breath of fresh air for the fridge.

So why would we cook with something that smells as gross as this? Simply because it adds that indefinable but absolutely necessary pungency to Malaysian cooking. (It’s also used widely in Thai, Laotian, Indonesian, Singapore and other South East Asian cuisines). It’s the belacan that gives sambal its potency, and the taste that allows the finished product to take you back to that Hawker’s Market in Penang.

Galangal is similar to ginger, but has a different texture and is more citrusy in taste. If you can’t get it, use more ginger.

I can rarely be faffed jointing a whole chicken (and our supermarket doesn’t sell free-range pieces other than drumsticks), so we used skinless thighs. If you are doing this, I would recommend taking the chicken out after the initial cooking period so that you have the time to develop the sauce in the way it needs to be developed. Then simply toss the chicken pieces back in for the final 10 mins or so.

Anyways, here is the recipe. It will serve 4 people easily with leftovers dependent on appetites.

What you need

For the paste:
  • 8 red birds eye chillis, split & de-seeded. We like chilli so leave the seeds in a few of these.
  • 3 shallots, sometimes called French shallots. If you can’t get them, use red onions – 1 large one should be enough
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm each ginger, galangal, and turmeric (peeled and sliced). Galangal is similar to ginger, yet tastes very different.
  • 5 candlenuts (These taste like a brazil nut with the texture of a macadamia)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (the white part)
  • 1 tsp belacan*

Smash this all with your mortar and pestle, or whack it into a food processor and whizz until it is a smooth paste.

You’ll also need:
  • 1 whole chicken jointed (or about 1.5kgs chicken pieces) – we prefer free range chooks that have clucked and scratched their way through their (short) lives.
  • 1 tbsp oil – we use rice bran or coconut oil
  • 5 eschalots (sliced)
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • Fish sauce to taste – about a tablespoon
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, to serve (optional)
  • Extra lime to serve (optional)
  • Coriander to serve (optional)

Putting it all together:

  • Heat the oil in a large frypan and fry the paste over medium heat until it is brown and fragrant. This will take about 5 minutes, but trust me, you’ll know.
  • Add the shallots and chicken pieces and coat in the paste before frying for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the coconut cream, 100ml water, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring it up to a boil before reducing to a simmer for 20 minutes. (If you’re cooking it on a stovetop you might not need the extra water).
  • Uncover and simmer for another 5-10minutes – or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced to a dunkable gravy.
  • Add fish sauce to taste, stir in the lime juice and scatter with kaffir lime leaves and (if using) coriander to serve.

You know those weekend days when the skies are blue, the sun is shining and it’s almost warm enough to dip your toe in the pool, but absolutely beach weather? On days like that, you want a lunch like this. One that you can prepare quickly – this can be on the table in 10 minutes – that won’t weigh you down, that works brilliantly with white wine or water, and that, most importantly, leaves room for something yummy but maybe a tad heavier for dinner. It’s all about moderation.

We bought all the ingredients at our local farmer’s market that morning, but if you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, everything is readily available from most supermarkets.

As an aside, this works just as well with prawns or leftover shredded barbecue chicken.

Finally, a note on quantities. This will feed 4 if it’s part of a shared meal, or 2 if it’s all you’re having.

What you need

  • 100g smoked salmon
  • a handful of rocket or other leaves
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about a 10cm length of cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • coriander to garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened yoghurt

What you do with it

  •  In a large mixing bowl toss together the avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, leaves, juice of one of the lemons, the olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix together the yoghurt and the juice from half of the other lemon. Cut the other half into halves for serving.
  • Place the salad in a large serving bowl and arrange the salmon through it. If you don’t trust your dining partner to share, split it all into 2 dishes and split the salmon one piece for me, one piece for him…
  • Drizzle the yoghurt dressing over the top, garnish with coriander – unless you’re a paid-up member of the I Hate Coriander Club – and serve with the leftover lemon.