Thai Chicken Noodle Broth

It’s really easy nowadays to create authentic tasting Thai curries and broths with very, very little effort. Obviously you can’t beat the real deal, and there is nothing better than a homemade curry paste to really inject your food with fresh, full and pungent flavours. But, for a mid-week dinner to rustle up after a long day a work, Thai curries are one of my super easy, quick, no-fuss dinners to whirl together in next to no time. The classic Thai red/Thai green flavours are delicious with chicken, king prawns or just veggies. I either serve them with steamed basmati rice or very thin rice noodles (the noodle version is more like a broth as opposed to a curry – the perfect warming dish for a cold, wintery night).

I like to add lots of fresh chilli, ginger, lemongrass, basil/coriander and lime juice to really give the flavours a boost, without too much effort.

Thai Chicken Noodle Broth
Thai Chicken Noodle Broth

Here is the recipe for my classic Thai Chicken Noodle Broth, which serves 2 and takes about 30 mins from wok to bowl.

What you need:

  • 2 skinless free-range chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 fresh limes
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed
  • a teaspoon of fish sauce
  • handful of fresh coriander (leaves removed and stalks finely chopped)
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Red curry paste (I use Taste Thai which you can get in most supermarkets and some delis)
  • 2 nests of rice noodles (I use Sainsbury’s)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • prawn crackers, to serve

What to do:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large wok over a high heat. Once melted, add the chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes until slightly brown on the outside
  2. Add the sliced garlic, half of the sliced chilli and all of the chopped coriander stalks and continue to stir fry for another minute
  3. Once the ingredients start to release their fragrance, add the curry paste and continue to stir, coating all of the chicken
  4. Add the fish sauce and stir-fry for another minute whilst you bash the lemongrass stalk with the handle end of a knife to help release its fragrance
  5. Add the tin of coconut milk and the bashed lemongrass to the wok, and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer
  6. Simmer the broth for about 8-10 mins until the chicken is cooked through
  7. Whilst your curry broth is simmering, prepare the rice noodles as per the packet instructions (I use Sainsbury’s nests of rice noodles which cook in 3 mins)
  8. Drain the noodles and divide them into 2 warm bowls
  9. Take the broth off the heat and remove the lemongrass stalk. Squeeze in the juice of one whole lime and stir well
  10. Use a ladle to divide the broth into the two bowls of noodles
  11. Top the bowls with the rest of the sliced red chilli and finely chopped coriander leaves
  12. Serve with prawn crackers, and a wedge of lime!
Thai Chicken Noodle Broth
Thai Chicken Noodle Broth

Hope you enjoy this one! Sophie -x-

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Baltic Cellar, Manchester

When I was lucky enough to be cordially invited to the exclusive launch party of Baltic Cellar, Lloyd Street, Manchester – I felt honoured. I only started my food blog in August this year, and the response I have received from the foodie world so far has been fantastic. So as you can imagine, I was looking forward to this one. And, I have MDOG_MANCHESTER¬†to thank – so thanks dude ūüėČ

The invitation promised flames, grills, vodka on-tap and a mind-bending surprise… How could I possibly refuse?! Well, I couldn’t of course, and I was so eager that Bradley and I were the first ones there and had to be told on arrival (red carpet and all) by the Tuxedo-clad bouncers to come back in 5-10 minutes when the hostess had arrived! I was excited, to say the least. Lesson learnt – next time ‘fashionably late’ is perhaps the cooler option.

It is safe to say – Baltic Cellar delivered on all that was promised, and then some. These guys truly know how to eat, drink and entertain you. Basically, they know how to party – and I am now told they are taking bookings for Christmas – so if you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, I would highly recommend this place.

Set just down the road from Albert Square (the Christmas-capital of Manchester), Baltic Cellar is exactly that – the entrance is on the street, with windows and steps looking down towards their main seating area and large bar. To entertain us in the queue was the amazing performer Beth Sykes (pictured above), who put on a flawless fire show, complete with actual flame swallowing. Very impressive.

Once inside, we were greeted with ‘Champagne’ and canapes – a simple yet very effective collection of Latvian and Lithuanian cheeses, cooked meats (Polish smoked sausages, smoked hams), olives and grapes. All were fabulous, very morish – but my favourite had to be the perfectly hand-crafted smoked salmon and creamed cheese eclairs… ¬†a super light and fluffy filling encased in a pretty little choux pastry parcel. So, so good, I think I ate about 15…

Then was time for a short entertainment interval – the wonderful Beth Sykes again, but this time a change of costume and style completely. It turns out Beth is an incredible, mesmerising and extremely talented contortionist. A true artist, ‘mind-bending’ indeed, I couldn’t take my eyes off her – neither could Bradley… Ahem.. OK, now back to the food ūüėČ

Next, we were to be seated for dinner: a traditional Russian ‘Zakuski’ (Russia’s answer to Tapas) whereby you sit together, drink vodka and eat a traditional selection of salted herring, Russian salad (like a chunky coleslaw), pickled and marinated cucumber and Salo (cured fat, I wasn’t too keen on this, but I did give it a go!) As we were seated, the Russian drinking rules were explained to us, something along the lines of: the person who wears the Russian hat must pour the drinks. They must always pour one for themselves when pouring for others. They must hold the bottle by the neck… Thank fully, being the designated driver, I managed to stay sober and avoid the hangover… This also meant I remember all of what happened next!

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On to the Mains… Well, as you can imagine, we were all rather full by now. The main feast however was yet to begin – as now followed a beautifully presented small-servings platter of homemade savoury delights:

  • Beef Goulash, a tender and slow-cooked warming stew with paprika, carrots and onions.
  • Chicken &¬†Mushrooms,¬†served with hand-picked forest mushrooms in a sharp creamy sauce.
  • Bigos, a traditional Polish dish which stews the rich flavours of sauerkraut, smoked sausage, smoked ribs, cabbage, onions, plums and wild mushrooms – so incredibly tasty.
  • Chicken Cedar, chicken in a light creamy sauce topped with cedar nuts.
  • Vegetable Ragu of braised cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Pork Stroganoff, a traditional 19th century Russian dish served with lean pork strips and a rich, tasty sauce.
  • Grilled Meats – Chicken or Salmon Shashlik, ¬†we tried the salmon only, which was cooked on an authentic Baltic charcoal grill. Marinated and ‘slow grilled,’ it tasted incredible. This ¬†was my favourite dish of the evening, as the fish was mouth wateringly succulent and cooked to perfection.

The the side-dishes were also excellently seasoned; creamy mashed potatoes, spicy rice and skinny, crispy fries. Yum.

Then, this happened…

Possibly THE most decedent, varied, sweet and indulgent (and biggest!) dessert selection I have ever seen in a restaurant (not counting my nan’s pudding spread a family Christmas buffet…) Although we were full to the brim, there was no way we could refuse trying these little beauties – all homemade: Cheese Cake, Honey Cake, Chocolate Cake, Napoleon Cake (Polish variation called Kremowka). Just divine. The berries helped cut through the sweetness with a little sharpness and bite – the perfect end to a true Baltic Feast.

All in all, the dishes were hearty, authentic, homemade and very morish. The party was swinging, the staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable about each dish and the vodka (so I am told), was excellent quality. I will leave you with a few images which capture some other highlights of what was altogether an excellent evening. Thank you.

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If you would like to make a reservation at Baltic Cellar, please contact Inesa on 0161 971 6047 or click on balticcellar.com!

Thyme and Tabasco Sausage Rolls

It’s getting towards that time of year when we need a little bit of ‘comfort’ food to help us through the cold autumn and winter months. It’s pretty much a great excuse to stuff our faces with tasty treats. After all, we need a little bit of extra fat for the winter, so we might as well start now. Agreed? Good, then read on….

These sausage rolls are warming, moreish, comforting and super-easy to rustle-up ¬†in about 45¬†minutes. They also have a slightly ‘festive’ feel about them. ¬†You don’t have to cook them straight away either, you can save them covered in the fridge for up to 3 days beforehand, so they can be made well in advance if you are planning a little party or get-together. After all, it’s 100 sleeps until Christmas, so why not!

This recipe makes about 40 sausage rolls (I told you, they are moreish!) but if you don’t want to make so many, you can easily halve the quantities (but may live to regret it)…

Thyme & Tobasco Sausage Rolls
Thyme & Tabasco Sausage Rolls, baking in batches until golden and crisp.

What you need:

  • 1 knob butter
  • small glug of olive oil
  • parchment paper
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (removed from stalks)
  • 690g good quality sausage meat or 10 sausages with the meat pushed out from the skins (I use Sainsbury’s Ultimate 97% Pork Sausages)
  • 4 320g sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

  1. preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
  2. melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the finely chopped shallots until they are golden and soft. transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  3. to the mixing bowl, add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, fresh thyme and sausage meat and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. mix together until thoroughly combined, using your hands if necessary!
  4. next, roll the puff pastry out into a large rectangle, then cut into two long rectangles.
  5. place a layer of sausage meat mixture down the middle of each pastry rectangle, then brush each pastry rectangle with beaten egg along one side.
  6. fold the other side of the pastry over onto the egg-washed edge. press down to seal using a fork (which makes a nice pattern) and cut each pastry roll into about 10 small sausage rolls
  7. repeat this for the second pack of puff pastry (if using), until you have as many sausage rolls as required.
  8. lightly oil a baking tray using the kitchen paper olive oil, and place the sausage rolls the tray and then into the oven.
  9. bake for 18-20 minutes, or until crisp and golden and the sausage meat is completely cooked throughout.

Enjoy, scranners!