26 February 2015

Kale and Hearty!

It's funny how fashion trends dictate the ingredients we buy, the menus we create and the things we eat and every so often this process reaches a pinnacle by promoting and incessantly touting a new de rigeur, must have superfood! The observant and the cynical amongst us may smirk and say we've seen it all before. Who doesn't remember for example, the heyday of the kiwi fruit or the popularity of sun dried tomatoes... Where are they now?

The trend, however continues unabated and fashionable ingredients come and go, rising and falling in popularity with monotonous regularity. Currently riding high is the humble kale but it has to be admitted in this case with some justification. Among the properties listed for kale are: it's very high in fibre; it's an anti-oxidant; it is loaded with vitamins especially K, A, and C; it helps prevent the absorption of dietary fats and thereby lowers cholesterol and it even helps retard the growth of cancer cells! Truly a super food! Go ahead and Google it to find out more about the justification for its claim to premier league status.

Similarly there are those foods that fashion demands we eschew and currently receiving a battering, so to speak, is the humble potato crisp. Listening to the radio recently we heard one visitor to these shores recently exclaim that one of the worst things about the UK cuisine was undoubtedly the flavoured crisp! Their negative connotations need hardly be laboured here. Suffice to say they are deep fat fried, laden with salt and totally lack any type of nutrition. Not to mention drenched in the afore mentioned artificial chemical flavour! We would like to make two points here though in defence of the crisp, one is that crisps don't have to be made from potatoes or even root vegetables and two they don't have to be flavoured! So for this post we have combined one of the most hyped ingredients of the day with one of the least admired... kale crisps!


Several stalks of kale
Olive oil
Garlic Salt
Paprika or Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper


Cut out the stalks and shred the kale leaves into crisp size pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner. It is very important the leaves are bone dry. Place on a baking tray leaving some room between the leaves. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil and sprinkle over the spices. ( You can experiment with others if you prefer ) Place the tray in a pre-heated oven at 180 C and leave for in for about 10 minutes toss them about and leave for a further 5 minutes or until the kale is crispy. It will become even more crisp when taken out of the oven and allowed to cool.

Posted by incredibly fed

17 February 2015

Kuih Ketayap - Malaysian pandan pancakes

How come every year at this time, the beginning of Lent the Brazilians get Carnival - one of the noisiest, sexiest and exuberant annual spectacles imaginable on this planet while over here we get..... pancakes!!!??  Only the merest hint of lemon juice and sugar, jam or if we're very lucky chocolate sauce livens up the dull pan fried flat round flour and egg mix. We have to say we definitely don't think we get a good deal on this one and it's really not the best start to forty days of fasting, hunger and misery!!

Still that's the way it's been since medieval times and there's not much we can do about it.. Or is there? Short of boarding a trans-Atlantic flight to Latin America, stripping off, donning a sequent bikini and pom poms, jumping on a parade float and joining in the party what else can be done? Well you could try a more interesting Asian take on the humble pancake with a tasty coconut stuffing! These are generally made in Malaysia or Indonesia as a mid afternoon snack or to impress the aunties when they drop in for afternoon tea.

Don't be intimidated by the use of pandan ( screw pine ) leaves - they are crucial in this particular recipe and lend the wonderful and entirely natural green colour to the dish but we noticed a version in Sri Lanka recently called panipol pancake which drops the leaves altogether and uses only coconut milk and flour. Happily pandan leaves have become widely available in the UK and can be bought in Chinatown or on the internet.

So for a Shrove Tuesday with a difference try these...


( Makes about 10 pancakes)


12 Pandan (Screw pine) leaves
500 ml cold water
300g Plain flour
2 Eggs - Beaten
120 ml Coconut Milk
Pinch salt


600g Grated fresh coconut
300g Palm sugar
4 Pandan leaves
200 ml Cold water



Filling - Cut the palm sugar into chunks and place in a saucepan with water. Tie or knot four pandan leaves together and add. Bring to the boil and simmer gently adding grated coconut and mixing well until almost dry. Put aside and allow to cool.

Pancake - Blend roughly chopped pandan leaves and water and then strain the the water. Put the flour, salt, egg and slowly whisk in the coconut milk and the pandan water until smooth. Ensure there are no lumps. Add more water if necessary. The batter should be runny and should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Heat a little butter in a non-stick frying pan. Pour a ladle of pancake mix to cover the pan and cook on a low heat for about 2 or 3 minutes until edges curl. If necessary turn over and cook for a further minute. Repeat and store pancakes separated by grease proof paper.

To stuff place a table spoon of filling mix along the centre of each, fold the ends over and roll tightly. To serve cut each pancake diagonally and arrange with ice cream and / or fruit.

Posted by incredibly fed

3 February 2015

Prawn and Tamarind Salad

The lighthouse in Galle ( a world heritage site ) on the south coast of Sri Lanka
Just before Christmas we spent some time on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka visiting Romesh a very old friend of ours. ( We have written about Romesh before - see blog dated 13th July 2012 where he takes us through typical Sri Lankan curry and a number of other accompanying dishes ).

Romesh studied fashion with Ghaz in the eighties and he worked in the UK and in Germany before returning home about eight years ago to look after his ageing mother. He now lives with Tyson his lively boxer dog, in his family's wonderful Art Deco house in the heart of the embassy district of Colombo. Caruna his cook looks after him and his guests with wonderful Sri Lankan meals all served in the dining room. Meals are a formal occasion and are all ( even breakfast ) announced by several strokes on a gong echoing around the house.

Hearty breakfasts typically consist of fresh tropical fruits with buffalo curd and kitul (a sweet palm tree sap which is the Sri Lankan version of honey) A light prawn curry follows accompanied by hard boiled eggs in a spicy coconut milk and rice of course.

Seafood ingredients are very popular and the light prawn curry is served at any time of the day from breakfast onwards. Grilled prawns are also cooked frequently and here below we have adapted a prawn marinade to make a particularly tasty starter...


( Serves two )

6 King / tiger prawns
1 Cucumber cut into ribbons
1 Carrot cut into ribbons
1 Mango julienned
Coriander leaves
Olive oil

1 Tbls Fish sauce
1 Tbls Soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbls brown sugar

2 Cloves garlic in paste
1 Tsp Fish sauce
1 Tbls Tamarind paste
2 Tbls Sweet chilli sauce
1 Tbls Thin soy sauce

Chopped toasted Cashews
Deseeded and sliced chilli
Slices of khaki fruit or star fruit

Peel the prawns leaving head and tail intact and place in marinade for about 20 minutes. While marinating mix dressing ingredients, season and adjust to taste. Heat a little oil in a wok and fry prawns until nicely pink all over (about 3 - 5 minutes). Mix salad ingredients and cashews and toss in the dressing at the last minute. Arrange prawns on top. Garnish and serve.

Posted by incredibly fed