Ok, confession time. I cook chicken livers quite regularly; stroganoff, peri-peri etc. as I know they are nutritious and cheap, but I don’t love them. It’s more of a “chew slowly and think of England” situation. I don’t find them icky but they’re such a rich flavour and texture that after a few bits I find it a bit much; which isn’t good when they’re a main course dish.
All that changed with a delicious starter I had last week at a chic lunch-spot in Jo’burg – Chicken liver Bunny Chow 🙂
I didn’t think to take a photo at the restaurant (too busy scoffing) so this is an interpretation of what I remember – a great success, if I do say so myself!
Aioli, or allioli, was the staple food during my short trip to Ibiza. I like to think the garlic content off-set the effects of too much sun and gin, as well as deterring the mozzies. It’s a little hard to get hold of in the UK; Morrisons is supposed to stock ‘Chovi’ Allioli but I’ve yet to find it in my local stores. Most supermarkets’ versions are actually mayonnaise with garlic added. Not the same and no where near as punchy as the Catalan version which just combines crushed garlic, salt and olive oil. The Provençal version also includes egg yolk to give a slightly thicker texture, but still it’s garlic in the lead role.
This is my current favourite version to make:
3 cloves garlic, crushed to a smooth paste with a pinch of flaked salt. Add an egg yolk and a splash of cold water, stirring to combine. Now slowly trickle in up to 200ml olive oil until a nice thick consistency is achieved. Check for seasoning and add more salt to taste. Voila!
One week on and I’ve just about recovered from last weekend. As a surprise for our wedding anniversary, my wonderful husband had planned a trip around London to take in all the foodie spots I’ve been banging on about. See – he does listen! 🙂 Perfect timing as I’d been in a quandary about whether or not to attend a rather expensive food festival last month.
Over 100 photos later, here’s the summary:
Monmouth Coffee Company @ Borough Market – As is now tradition, we queued at Monmouth for their divine pour-over coffee and a free glass of Thames’ finest before heading into Borough Market. This is MY Disneyland 🙂 If we lived in London this place would ruin us. Bought some British charcuterie; a very soft ‘nduja, a red wine and rosemary salami and a goat salami from Cannon & Cannon (not much left now….) and some lovely grapes and apricots from one of the fruit vendors to munch on our treck. Had a nose around Neal’s Yard Dairy shop – delightfully cool in there, with just the lightest whiff of cheese.
Paused at The Old Thameside Inn for an elevenses-half. Not the best pub in London, but certainly has a good spot for taking in the view.
Started writing a long post about me weekend, then my site conked out and lost everything I’d done. Until I can find the will to start over, and get my technical support to migrate this site to a better platform, here’s a piccie to keep you going:
This experiment came about after a conversation over several beers – who says alcohol has no benefits?!
Having seen Rick Stein effectively bonfire a pile of mussels on TV a few years ago, we thought we have a go at but using the braai as we don’t have a beach to cook on.
Rather than just make a foil parcel and steam them (en papillote) we wanted to get that smoky, baked flavour you get from grilling seafood right over the fire but the mussels would fall straight through the bars onto the charcoal, and that just wouldn’t do. I considered a DIY project involving a bit of metalwork but then the easier option presented itself – a cheap BBQ wok sold at the supermarket. Comes with a foldable handle so we’ll be able to put the lid. Now, just to wait for the pesky molluscs to be back in season – simples 🙂
The only reason I called this “Asian” salad is because I was replicating the most amazing salad I had at Asian Box in Macy’s SFO. Who’d have thought you could get fresh, tasty, gluten-free food in a department store basement food hall?!
You start your “box” with a base of rice, noodles or salad – I go with the brown rice or salad depending on jet-lag levels – then add protein* of your choice followed by steamed or wok-fired veggies. If that’s not enough there’s a whole pick ‘n mix of toppings like crispy shallots, fresh herbs, pickled veggies and chillies. As it’s all built in front of you, you can easily opt out of bits your don’t want.
STOP! We’re not quite finished yet! there’s still the 6 house made sauces to choose from! I normally have this as a treat so I’ll happily have a little sriracha sauce, even though it’s not sugar-free or soy-free, but they also have “Asian Street Dust” which is a mix of dry spices. Amaaazing! Perfect mix of fresh, crunchy, spicy and comforting. Even if your body clock doesn’t feel ready for dinner time, it looks light enough to not be off-putting and just the thing for blowing away the long-haul flight cobwebs. Plus, it’s not in a restaurant so no expectation for you to interact with people or tip 🙂
So, back to dreary Berkshire, UK. Here’s what I threw together:
2 tablespoons Coconut oil
1 x whole Poached chicken breast (about 2 cups)
1tsp Chinese 5 Spice
1tsp Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Coconut aminos
1 x Yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
2 handfuls Beansprouts (about 150g)
Half a Cucumber, peeled into ribbons
Hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
25g Cashew nuts
4 x Shallots, finely sliced
1 x Red chilli, finely chopped (as mild or spicy as preferred)
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a wok or skillet. Tear the chicken into bite sized strips and fry in the oil until starting to brown and starting to get crispy strands. Add the 5 Spice, fish sauce and coconut aminos and stir well. You should get a slightly caramelised effect. Turn off heat, and set pan aside.
Assemble all the salad ingredients on a serving plate.
Now we work fairly quickly. Heat a small frying pan and dry roast the cashews until golden, then pour onto a chopping board to rough chop. Now heat the other 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the same pan and add the shallots. The natural sugars will start to caramelise and they’ll crisp up – keep them moving so they don’t burn. When you’ve achieved desired crispiness, remove from the pan and transfer to a piece of kitchen towel. They shouldn’t be massively greasy, but draining them prevents sogginess.
Serve up a portion of the chicken onto the salad, top with chilli and spring onions followed by a squeeze or two of sriracha and a spritz of lime. Sprinkle over the sweet and crispy shallots and the roasted cashews.
*I couldn’t find any allergy info on their website, so I can’t be sure what’s in the marinades but I didn’t have any adverse reaction.
This year we managed to plan ourselves a few days off work before leaping into the holiday chaos of 4am alarms and airports full of amateur travellers – Heathrow could really do with separate lanes for people who know where they’re going, and how to remove their shoes for security, and another for those who need a little more time and assistance.
A slow adjustment to vacation seemed like a good plan, due to hubby only just being back from India. Friday was dedicated to covering as much of London as possible, [must post part 2 soon] Saturday was family catch up day and Sunday was Wimbledon. Today has been holiday prep – yes, we leave these thing late. First pleasant task of the day was to try to empty the fridge of perishables; resulting in a rather tasty caramelised onion frittata with nigella seeds for brunch. Have been informed I may make that again. A short swing round town to get Mr some replacement swimming trunks and have a calming flat white at Picnic. Darn hot out there, but has helped me get my suitcase contents reduced to the bare minimum. Not even taking heels or a hairdryer this time!
Must crack on with dinner soon so can get an early night and be bright-eyed and bushy tailed at silly o’clock tomorrow morning. Looks like it’s chicken wings, coleslaw, tomato and mozzarella salad, and half a lemon 🙂