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Monday, 25 March 2013

Want Food Tour of Thailand

The hand painted walls ofthe Golden Buddha Temple

I have just returned from my inaugural food tour of Thailand. I was joined by a group of 10 wonderful girls who embraced the tour enthusiastically in every way from market tours, food sampling, cooking classes, shopping, dining and drinking.
This lady cooked the best roast duck and pork in the market

Hard at work grating the fresh coconut
Lots of fun at cooking class

Sampling some dumplings at the markets
Stunning in the sun hat after a stroll in the herb garden

We sampled food through the local markets with our wonderful guide Sam. Breakfast one morning was in Nang Leong a 100 year old market, that no foreigners had previously ventured too. Whilst they seemed to be quite alarmed at the sight of 11 chatty girls descending on their territory, that were very welcoming and eager to let us sample their fare. They even put on a little show as they deftly prepared tiny pork dumplings at super fast speed, as we ooohed an arrred, at their skill. We ate duck and congee for breakfast washed down with a milky coffee followed by a sweet coconut custard steamed in a banana leaf. The next market Or Tor Kor is the 4th biggest fresh food market in the world. The market is so clean and as always the presentation stunning. Produce here is mostly organic and amongst the best in the country.
These rose apples were delicious
Fresh fruit and vegetables, chilli pastes, beautiful herbs, fresh meat and seafood. Frustrated again, that I didn't have a kitchen to prepare these goodies in, I had to be content with lots of sampling. Anything that we chose, our guide would buy for us to sample and he suggested lots more local tidbits we were not familiar with as well.
Afternoon was spent in a cooking class, in a gorgeous Thai house surrounded by a beautiful herb garden. We watched and then cooked 4 dishes and ate them all of course. Lots of laughter and chat as we prepared these very simple tasty dishes. We grated fresh coconut and made the cream we cooked with, so delicious.
One day we toured through the 3 communities of Thailand China and little India, stopping to eat  at the best local restaurants serving the cuisine of each area. We returned home more than satisfied and in awe of all the food we would never try, without assistance from a local. As I have mentioned before, the Thais eat everything. They would be quite shocked to see how much of an animal we waste, and what insects and creatures we don't eat.
We also visited the beautiful oriental style house of Jim Thompson and the Jarm Village where the biggest Khmer community in Bangkok live.
Three days in Chiang Mai was a welcome respite after the frenetic pace of Bangkok.
We enjoyed massages, body scrubs and facials in the beautiful spa at the Rati Lanna .

Cooking classes with Yui, in her home was a fabulous real experience for us all.  She certainly makes it all seem so simple as she chattered away about different rices available in Thailand, when to use coconut milk and coconut cream, her life tales and her future ventures .
We ate in one of America's first ladies favourite restaurants, The Gallery on the Ping River.
After dinner we had some hilarious experiences in the famous Chiang Mai night markets battering for bags and pashminas, whilst tuk tuk drivers looked on with great amusement! Would have loved to know what they were saying !
Just a small sample of the orchids available
We toured the Warorot markets, the biggest market in the north. Tourists involved in the daily hustle of trade. Sensual aromas wafted by as we sampled lots of dried food and admired the stunning fresh flowers at such ridiculously low prices.
Roast duck and crackling mmmmm
looking forward to Jim Thompson House
Some of the group ready for our last dinner

Jasmine Pannacotta

Some of us chose to go to the Elephant refuge which was an amazing, up close experience.
Returning to Bangkok was like coming home. Lots of shopping to finish and more beauty treatments to be had, and tailored garments to collect.
The stunning dinner at Issaya Siamese Club was an unforgettable meal for us all.
So many memories, so much food, new friends and a lot of frivolity !
I will be taking a tour to Thailand again later in the year for anyone who may be interested in this life time experience. Please don't hesitate to contact me at

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Peanut Caramel Slice

Look what I found in the David Jones food hall the other day !

Don't dare open them before you are cooking with them or they will all be consumed in a minute by everyone around you. They can be used as a replacement for chocolate chips in cookies. I did try them in one slice sprinkling on top of the chocolate icing and adding some sea salt and they melted, so I  did this instead. Gone in 60 seconds by my tribe. Keep it in the fridge in this humidity it is much better.
There are so many recipes for caramel shortbread/slice, all very similar and all very nice. Try this for a variation.

125 grams butter
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup castor sugar

1 400 gram tin condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter

Reese's peanut butter chips
Chocolate for melting

Layer a baking tin approx 18cm by 28cm or 19cm by 29cm, with baking paper. A lamington style baking dish.
Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove top. In a bowl sift flour add sugar and mix in the melted butter. Put this into your baking tin and press down evening it out as you go.
Bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a saucepan melt the condensed milk, golden syrup, peanut butter and butter . Stir until combined and
continue cooking for over a low heat for a minute.
Pour the mixture over the cooked base and return to oven for 10 minutes.
When you have taken it out wait until cooled at least 5minutes and sprinkle with the peanut chips. At this stage if the top is too hot they will melt if too cold they wont stick ! Tricky! When totally cooled, heat the chocolate and drizzle over the top. This will help keep the chips on top.
Put the tray in the fridge. If you cant find these Reese's Chips you could add 3/4 cup peanuts on top of the caramel topping before placing in the oven. As it cools you can add some sea salt.
A good recipe to play around with and whatever you do it won't last long!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Curried Chicken Drumsticks Madras Style

This dish is one I haven't made since my children were young and loved drumsticks. It is a great family meal, pretty inexpensive and very easy. It is a great introduction to "spicy food" for little ones, as it is not terribly hot .The dish keeps and freezes well and as usual with this type of dish, it is often better the next day, so prepare ahead.  You can adjust the seasoning to your liking, you can adjust the amount as well. This  recipe is for 1 kilo which isn't a lot if you have a hungry family to feed ! You could use thigh cutlets as an alternative.

1 kg chicken drumsticks
1 tablespoon Madras curry paste
60 mls of canola oil
1 birds eye chilli finely chopped
3 cm piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 can coconut cream
2 teaspoons salt

Gently fry the chicken drumsticks to colour and remove from the pot. Add the rest of the oil you may need extra and fry the garlic, ginger, chilli , turmeric and tomatoes together and add the curry paste. Cook these for a minute or two. Add the coconut cream , sugar and salt and blend with the spices.
Return the drumsticks to the pot and cook on a gentle simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Give it a stir every 10 minutes or so to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan and too make sure all of the drumsticks are covered and cooking.
Add some chopped coriander for garnish and serve with rice and poppadoms and a little chutney.
I used about 2 kilos of drumsticks and obviously increased amounts of everything

A sprinkle of coriander and toasted peanuts for garnish