The fundamentals of Thai Cuisine !

Having just finished teaching the 2 day Thai course at Ashburton Cookery School
I thought it would be great to share some pictures of the dishes but also the fundamentals of Thai Cuisine.

The main thing for me, to create that authenticity within Thai food is the seasoning.

To achieve this you will need to throw salt and pepper out the window and think sweet, sour, salty, hot !

sweet is generally In the form of sugar or anything sweet. We used a lot of Palm sugar over the weekend course.

Sour can be lemon or lime juice, rice vinegars and tamarind

Salty is never salt directly but fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste etc

The hot element is generally chillies but things like white pepper, ginger and green peppercorns can add this as well.

So therefore when you come to season or finish a thai dish just think is it sweet, sour, salty and hot. Then add those elements to create this.

Just adding this thought process to a simple stir fry will completely develop it and make it taste incredible!

Here are a few of the dishes created using this simple process.

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We run a fun and inspirational 1 and 2 day course at Ashburton Cookery School

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My take on the classic Slivovitz!

I was fortunate enough to be given a glut of foraged mirabelle plums from a fellow chef David Beazley, a local wild food expert !

It is quite traditional to make an eau de vie from the plums as they are known for their sweetness .

Having recently drank Slivovitz in Slovakia whilst visiting the capital I thought it would be great to create my own version.

I have used vodka in the recipe and married up the aniseed like flavour of star anise with the plums.

Recipe:
1kg plums
280g white sugar
1 star anise
2 strips of lemon peel, pith removed
600ml vodka approx, at least 40% proof

Method:

1. Pierce all of the plums with a sharp knife to the stone. Place in a clean jar.

2. Add the sugar, star anise and lemon peel. Pour the vodka over until the plums are covered.

3. Seal the jar. Each day for two weeks turn the jar over to mix the contents . The sugar should be dissolved by the end of the 2 weeks.

4. Store the jar in a dark, cool place for 3 months. Strain through a coffee filter and decant into nice bottles.
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Infectious Fish Enthusiasm

So this week I was fortunate enough to work alongside Mitch Tonks of the Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth.

He was producing the foodie shots for his new Seahorse Cook book .

I was blown away by his infectious enthusiasm for seafood. Mitch has such a passion not only for the seafood itself but how it is going to be cooked, served and even eaten by the customers. It seemed to me that he wanted the customer to endure and experience his passion within the food!

The seafood cooked up was good honest simple flavours but with top quality ingredients that sang for themselves on the plate.

Whether it was simple bowl of spaghetti con pomodoro or lobster calderetta it screamed flavour, tasted how it should and most importantly made you smile.

The dishes tasted and smelt fantastic and were presented in a way that called out to be eaten. There was almost this nostalgia that took you back with each and every mouthful.

I have never met anybody with Mitch’s passion for seafood and has definitely made me look at it in a whole new light .

Simplicity done well is the key and I shall now never loose sight of that. Let the flavours do the talking, just give them some love and affection and reep the rewards!

You can check his website and restaurant out here:
http://www.mitchtonks.co.uk

I shall wait patiently for his book to come out salivating in the meantime! 20140720-002536-1536978.jpg20140720-002538-1538299.jpg20140720-002537-1537616.jpg

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Kohlrabi baked with olive oil, garlic and thyme

With kohlrabi bang in season I used it in the simplest form.

It has quite a sweet cabbage meets turnip flavour and is good to eat raw in salads as well as cooked!

Here’s how I like to eat it.

Recipe:serves 2

1 kohlrabi
2 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method:

1. Pre heat the oven to 220C. Peel and slice the kohlrabi and garlic thinly. Pull the thyme leaves off the stalk.

2. Place the garlic, kohlrabi and thyme in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat and season well. Layer the ingredients up in a suitable dish being sure to get a good even mix.

3. Firmly press the layers to interlock them. Carefully add enough water to cover the kohlrabi halfway up. Place in the oven and bake for a good 20-30 minutes. The baked kohlrabi should be soft in the centre with a lovely caramelised, crisp top.

This goes particularly well with white meats and fish.

I served mine with a piece of pan fried cod and a handful of sugar snap peas, delicious !
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Quick and easy tiramisu to entertain the masses!

So my Mum invited me up to hers for a barbecue . Mother was cooking a paella and I was asked to provide a tiramisu!

I would like to share this quick and easy recipe that not only tastes great but looks the part also.

With tiramisu literally meaning “pick me up” it certainly does that !
I made the custard and used Kahlua as the liqueur. But you can use whatever coffee based liqueur you like.

Ingredients: serves 8

1 large serving dish/platter
2 packets of sponge fingers or savoiardi biscuits
500ml double cream
500ml fresh vanilla custard
500g mascarpone
1 mug strong coffee
Chefs splash of coffee liqueur
Good quality cocoa powder
Grated dark chocolate to finish

Method:
1. Lay the sponge fingers on a tray, liberally spoon over the coffee and liqueur until well coated and saturated.

2. In a bowl mix together the double cream, mascarpone and custard. Whisk until it forms soft peaks. Do not over whisk.

3. Place a layer of soaked sponge fingers in the base of your chosen dish. Top with a good layer of the cream mix followed by a good dusting of cocoa powder.

4. Continue stage 3 and then finish the top with more cocoa powder and lots of grated chocolate. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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