Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Cheater’s chicken satay

There is a perception that foodies, food authors and food bloggers only ever cook from scratch. Of course we must! Just look at the Instagram pictures and recipes we write and share! Naturally, we must painstakingly achieve each step with our own two hands…

I may be disowned by the fraternity by spilling the beans. Plenty of us cheat. Making our own pastry? Why? The wonderful Lorraine Pascale (you can’t argue with her baking expertise) advocates using frozen. Adam Creme, a foodie and award winning lawyer put it like this: “Life is too bleedin’ short to make shortcrust pastry unless it’s a special event” (via Twitter). Italians do make fresh pasta, occasionally, but to celebrate something. Valentina Harris once said that the celebration wasn’t just a mere birthday, but perhaps a graduation, or someone selling their farmhouse or similar; a landmark moment. 

Anna Symington, a fellow foodie and lawyer tweeted this: “only a crazy person makes puff”! I couldn’t agree more. For me, it’s too time consuming and difficult to be worthwhile. Although, if you want to make your own, go ahead. If I have to put together other elements of a meal, do I really want the faff of making my own mayonnaise, trying to maintain its consistency whilst mixing and pouring in my oil? 
In the weekend, I do sometimes set myself longer cooking projects. But I do that to enjoy the process. If you make your own pastry, mayonnaise, bacon or cheese because you love the task, fantastic. Carry on, and please do send me pictures of your handiwork.

All I am saying is, there’s nothing wrong with a little corner cutting, a little time saving and people should not be made to feel guilty for a little cheating. If it results in better taste, commensurate with the effort used, then I’ll do everything from scratch. Adam Creme puts it differently: “Part of the art of being a good cook is knowing which bits to cheat at". Brilliant!
Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with cheating. As fellow food blogger Kavey said on Twitter “We don’t all live off the land anymore so no one does everything from scratch”.

So I am sharing how you can use a sachet of Lobo Chicken Satay mix, available from Chinese and Thai grocers shops, to make a delicious chicken satay better than your local takeaway. It is based on the instructions on the back of the Lobo packet, but with some Snigdha tweaks. For example, making 1kg of chicken would be suitable for 4 people (I have reduced to two), the cooking time on a domestic grill risks uncooked chicken (a food poisoning risk) and there were no amounts for the veggies for the cucumber salad.

Cheater’s chicken satay

(Serves 2)

You will need:

1 pack Lobo Chicken Satay
500g pack skinned, boneless chicken thighs
1 can coconut milk (will be used for both marinade and sauce)
3 tablespoons ground nut oil
Half a cucumber, halved again lengthways and sliced into 5mm slices
1 large shallot, halved and sliced finely lengthways (I mean the echalion “banana” shallots; if you are using the very small Thai shallots, you will need 3-4)
1 birds eye chilli, seeds removed, diced as small as you can manage (or halve if you want it less hot)
4 tablespoons white rice vinegar
5 tablespoons caster sugar
¾ (three quarters) teaspoon ground sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaf


Bamboo skewers
Grill pan
2 small saucepans (even a milk pan will be the right size)
2 non-metallic bowls, 1 lidded or capable of being covered
A tall bottle, tall enough to contain the bamboo skewers
Measuring jug (or equivalent)
Grill, Hob, Kettle, non-metallic spoons, whisk
Gloves; food preparation gloves and oven gloves
Aluminium foil


1. Put the kettle on, boil some water. Empty into the tall bottle and soak the bamboo skewers. The longer they soak in hot water, the better. Hot water will help stop the skewers from burning when grilling. 
2. Remove excess fat and other inedible stuff from the chicken thighs. Slice into half inch long strips. 

3. In the lidded (or coverable) non-metallic bowl, empty 60ml of the coconut milk, plus the ground nut oil. Whisk together lightly until combined.

4. Open the marinade mix sachet, tipping it into the bowl, and whisk lightly until mixed. 

5. Put your food preparation gloves on, because the yellow marinade has a lot of turmeric in it and will dye your fingernails yellow.  

6. Add the chicken strips and with your gloved hands, ensure the strips are coated thoroughly in the marinade. 

7. Put the lid on the bowl, and put in the fridge for 50 minutes.  

8. Open the sauce mix sachet, tip it into one of the saucepans. Add 180ml of the remaining coconut milk and whisk lightly to combine and ensure there are no lumps. Put on the hob on a low heat. 

9. Remove the chicken from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes.  

10. Heat the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, and leave to cool. 

11. Line a grill pan with aluminium foil to avoid marinade spillage during cooking and put to one side. Donning your food preparation gloves once more, make up your chicken skewers. The strips should be capable of being threaded 3 times onto the skewer (as if you were sewing running stitch). Push the chicken pieces up tightly together on the skewers. Place on your foil wrapped grill pan.

12. Heat the grill to a high setting. I used the highest setting on my grill which is 270 degrees Celsius.

13. Cook each side of the skewers for 3-4 minutes, turning 4-5 times. You will need to cook the chicken for 12-15 minutes, or longer, depending on how fierce the heat on your grill is. 

14. For the cucumber salad, here are your instructions:

15. Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

May 2017 Favourites List

Another month has passed by and it is already time for another favourites list. May has raced by, bringing with it colour, warmth and opportunities for new food, new cooking, new recipes. Spring has brought with it wild garlic, asparagus, Jersey Royal new potatoes, Spring lamb among other treats. 

I have been thinking about food waste recently. It’s very sad that so much food in the western world gets thrown away. Food waste in the home means families are paying more for food than they need to spend. Simple tweaks like recipe planning or buying smaller amounts of food might help prevent this. Savings can be made, particularly on fresh fruit and vegetables bought in excess. Cooking larger dishes at the weekend to freeze for busy weeknights can help avoid ingredient wastage and save time when we have none. With food prices on the rise (and due to increase further), better planning, greater efficiency, ensuring we use everything we buy will help our wages go further. 

But this is a small part of the food waste problem. Commerce must accept the giant’s share of responsibility here. If you buy a sandwich when you’re at work, did you know that some sandwich manufacturers have to throw out 4 slices out of every loaf because the bread won’t make a perfect sandwich? The shops they make sandwiches for require it. What about the misshapen, so-called “ugly” fruit and veg? This doesn’t even make it to the shops to give us the choice of whether we want it or not. It is simply discarded. 

I think we all could do a bit better. Myself included. I’ve been known to pick things up in the shops which looked good at the time, but never quite got finished. I’ve realised shopping when hungry is a bad, bad idea. I’m sharpening up my menu/recipe planning to avoid less.

We can all use a small amount of thought and a tiny amount of effort which will benefit the environment and save us money. Let’s get to it!


A beautiful cakey bread to use up unused, browning, bruised and unattractive bananas… or you can do what my friend does, and buy the overripe bananas especially to make this lovely Banana Bread: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bananabread_85720

Now is the time for Jersey Royal potatoes. Here are two recipes from former Masterchef winner, Thomasina Miers: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/19/jersey-royal-potato-recipes-salad-smoked-trout-cervelle-de-canut-spinach-galette-thomasina-miers

New post from Cookwitch! Persian Khoresh from Sabrina Ghayour (author of Persiana) and some thoughts on food and cooking in general: http://cookwitch.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/sabrina-ghayours-khoresh-e-ghormeh-sabzi.html

No pretty picture, but this pork belly rib recipe from Glynn Parnell is highly likely to be cooked Chez Nous: http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/14846352.Cook_these__Three_recipes_from_the____Roger_Federer____of_British_cooking__Glynn_Purnell/

Russian kebab recipe from gifted food writer Diana Henry, whose recipes I love to cook: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/russian-shashlik-rhubarb-sauce

This vegetarian pea risotto is a traditionally Venetian dish. To make it authentic, use vialone nano risotto rice from the Veneto region of Italy: http://boroughmarket.org.uk/recipes/pea-risotto

Chicken, morel mushroom and asparagus pie. A bottomless pie for ease of preparation and cooking: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chicken-morel-mushroom-asparagus-one-pan-pie

This Malaysian dish looks utterly delicious. Time to buy some more glass noodles! http://goodthingsmagazine.com/spicy-minced-chicken-lemongrass-parcels/

Cool new bau "burger" recipe with braised beef from Chef Jeremy Pang (School of Wok, now Cha Chaan Teng) at the Kavey Eats blog! https://www.kaveyeats.com/2017/05/cha-chaan-tengs-braised-beef-short-rib-bao-burger.html

Dishoom is a brilliant place for tasty Indian food, inspired by Bombay's disappearing Irani cafes - here is their "gunpowder" potato recipe: http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/chef-recipes/dishooms-gunpowder-potatoes/

My jeans are fitting a little *too* snugly... so time to go back to the 5:2 diet... Warm chicken and pearl barley salad, only 383 calories. http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/533986/warm-chicken-and-barley-salad

Articles/Know How:

In the UK we throw away 1.4 million (1,400,000) bananas a year. Because they're going brown on the outside. Seriously, people, this has to stop. End food waste! https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-ways-use-ripe-bananas

Want to know where to get the best Burmese food in London? Check out MiMi Aye's article here: https://www.justopenedlondon.com/the-best-burmese-restaurants-in-london/

Ranty, sweary and NSFW, this is an interesting hatchet job on high end restaurants and chef worship. http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/down-with-chef-worship-1795061446

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

Recipe blog post - Tuna and bean salad (tuna fagioli): http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/tuna-and-bean-salad-tuna-fagioli.html




Animal Kingdom

Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay


Line Of Duty (Season 4)

The Doors – The Story Of LA Woman

David Bowie – Five Years

Decline And Fall


Robbie Robertson (Robbie Robertson)

Dial M For Monkey – Bonobo

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.