Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Ever Blog

For years now I've been looking at cookery programs and reading books in an attempt to better my skills and abilities. Until recently, I have hardly been inspired by the pompous "gourmet" food I saw - does anybody actually make this type of food for daily meals?

Recently in America I happened upon a Food Network program called "Good Eats" hosted by Chef Alton Brown. Up until now I have happily disregarded US cookery instructions as they invariably list ingredients where one is always "add a packet of .... or "mix with a can of...." - rarely do I see American magazines, books or shows actually make a meal fully and completely from scratch.

But Alton changes that - the "Good Eats" program (for those who aren't familiar with it) picks a different food item each week (Steak, Potato, Duck, chillies etc) and not only shows different ways to prepare the item but gives the science behind it - how it cooks, why it blends with other ingredients and so on but always maintains a light hearted and funny presentation style.

IMHO one of the best family shows on TV and should be compulsory viewing for all teenagers in school. Please please show this on Irish TV.........

My wife bought me "Good Eats - The Early Years" for Christmas and, in short, Alton has actually inspired me to start cooking again - If he ever reads this - Alton, thanks and keep up the good work!!

So, I decided to write this blog to:

1) Encourage myself to start cooking again
2) Try new and different dishes
3) Prove to myself that everyday cooking can be tasty and healthy if you know what goes into your food and how to prepare it.

First on the agenda was Thai Fishcakes which my wife asked for as a special request - so, not being a good idea to deny a wife's special request, I made these last night....

Thai Fishcakes with a Thai style Basmati rice
Despite what I said above, this recipe is quite complex but, if you prepare in advance, it doesn't take much time or effort.

Attack the meal in three stages:

1) Red Curry Paste
This form the basic flavour for the dish and can also be used to make Thai Red Curry (which is equally as good as any you can get from a Thai Restaurant) - I'll do this another time. This is my own recipe which I tweeked from a class in Asian cooking I did with my sister last year....
8 Long Red Dried Chillies, deseeded and chopped
P10109301 tsp Coriander Seed
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Cumin Seed
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
2 Stalks Lemongrass (chopped)
1 tsp Kaffir Lime Leaves (chopped)
2cm Fresh Ginger peeled and chopped
1 or 2 tsp Shrimp Paste (to taste - some people find it quite strong)
1 tsp Salt

Using a mortar and pestle - grind all the ingrediants into a thick paste (I used a Magic Bullet blender...)

Note - this can be made up in advance and refrigerated or frozen until needed. It makes about twice the amount needed for the fishcakes.

2) Thai Fishcakes
I picked the recipe itself from Here

Raw Mix

P1010934Finished Product

3) Thai Style Basmati Rice
This is a mix of my own which tends to go down well at home. 

1 Cup Basmati Rice 
2 tbls vegetable oil
1 large Onion fine chopped
2 cloves chopped Garlic
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1oz Coconut Cream liquified in 1/2 Cup water
1 sliced Red Chilli
1 tsp Red Curry Paste
2 Spring Onions chopped
1 large Carrot chopped into small pieces
1/2 Cup frozen peas
1 tsp Salt
1 to 1.5 pintes of water

Soak the rice for 15 minutes in cold water
On a medium hot frying pan, fry the onions for 2-3 minutes until they begin to sweat
Add the Garlic, Salt and Red Curry Paste and fry for a further minute
Drain the rice and add to the Frying Pan - mix well to ensure the mix coats the rice.
P1010936Add the Chicken Stock and the Coconut Cream, Spring Onion, Carrot and Peas and mix together
Add enough water to cover and come about 1/4 inch above the rice in the pan
Cover and lower the heat to low for about 12 to 15 minutes until the rice is tender

Overall, they were good and tasty and I would make them again but next time I feel I would add something else to the to break up the texture which I felt was a bit too chewy - maybe rice or potato would help.  I'll try them again sometime and update this when I do.

Let me know if you try any of these recipies and any thoughts or words of wisdom are appreciated.


  1. My God I'm STARVING looking at this! I'm going to try out the rice this week as it looks so simple and tasty.

    Good luck with the new blog! I'll be following! :)

  2. Hi! I really enjoyed reading your posts - hope there is more to follow! Good Eats is on the Food Network on the Sky Box now, just go to the 'culture' menu and it's a few pages down. I've seen a few episodes and it's great!