Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lazy weeknight curries

Towards the end of my 3 weeks free of dairy, eggs, nuts, fruit and honey, I ran out of in season vegetables to add to my diet, so I decided to start of spices. While I've gained a greater appreciation of cooking without herbs and spices, just letting the flavours of the ingredients speak for themselves with the aid of a good chicken stock, I also find I miss foods with a bit more punch. Cumin, coriander, ginger and turmeric were all successfully added, and I'd decided it was just about time to take a baby step in the direction of nuts, so I whipped up a quick batch of coconut milk, and decided to try something vaguely Thai styled.

I've recently started buying my meat from a local butcher, who does fantastic discounts on bulk purchases, and free delivery on orders over $80. He seems to be able to get in just about anything (for example, suet for my fruit mince and Christmas pudding last year, which I hadn't been able to find anywhere), and almost everything is grass fed and free range. Because of this, I've been eating a lot more pork than in the past. It's seems to be fairly easy to find free range chicken and beef, but pork has been much more difficult to get hold of, so I've tended not to eat it much.

So I had some pork mince (minus the little bit for the kitten, who tells me that pork is her favourite food! nom, nom, nom, purr), and could eat some spices and had a batch of coconut milk soaking (I don't use a recipe for this, just chuck dessicated coconut in with some boiling water - at a guess maybe a cup of dessicated coconut to 750mls water). Then is was just a matter of scouring the bottom of the fridge for the remnants of vegetables from last weeks shopping, before the arrival of the groceries for the new week. I found: 2 carrots, an onion, 5-6 mushrooms, 2 zucchini and some green beans.

So more a method than a recipe:

Pork green curry

Dice the vegetables, while preheating a wok or large frying pan, and start some coconut milk. 

Add a heaped teaspoon of cumin, coriander, ground ginger and turmeric (and chilli, if you feel so inclined) to the wok and toast for a few seconds before adding and browning the pork mince (about 600g). 

Once cooked, remove it from the pan, then added the longer cooking time veg
gies (onion, carrot and beans in this case) and cook until they were most of the way done, then added the shorter cooking veggies (here the zucchini and mushrooms).

Add the pork back to the pan together with some coconut milk and chicken stock, enough to make a good sauce for the curry. Add some salt before serving. Serve with fresh coriander, crushed nuts, and/or a wedge of lime.

More recently, I had put all of the ingredients for yummy lemon-thyme lamb shanks (which I'll post another time, I promise) into my slow cooker, but forgotten to turn it on before leaving for work. In arriving home, I noticed the absence of the smell of dinner as I walked in the door. Disappointment!

I had to come up with something, and quick, because I was starving. I remembered there were some little frozen prawns in the freezer, about the only thing there I could easily use from frozen. Next, the fridge turned up some zucchinis, carrots, a leek, a bunch of spinach, and some green beans. Again, you can throw this together with pretty much anything you've got.

Prawn Laksa

Chop your veggies (I sliced the leek in rounds, chopped the beans in half, washed and destemmed the spinach, and julienned the carrots and zucchini with my julienne peeler). In the mean time, preheat a wok or large saucepan, and get some coconut milk happening.

Add a heaped teaspoon of cumin, coriander, ground ginger and turmeric (and chilli, if you feel so inclined) to the wok and toast for a few seconds before adding some oil, and the veggies that need frying (I threw in the leek and beans). At the same time, put the julienne carrots in a steamer.

When the frying veggies are well on the way to being cooked, add a good amount of coconut milk and chicken stock (maybe 1.5 - 2 litres in total). Add the zucchini to the steamer, and the prawns to the wok. Stir through the spinach just before everything else is done. Add some salt before serving.

Serve noodles into deep preheated bowls, and top with the laksa. Serve with crushed nuts, coriander and/or a wedge of lime or lemon.

Enjoy! (Both were even better reheated for lunch the next day)

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