Sunday, 27 April 2008

Dinner on Fiona's Farm

My friend Fiona has a property outside Tarago, which really isn't actually a farm, but a lot of bushland with house, garden and dams. We had a lovely dinner out there last night - Fiona made a slow roast leg of goat, with Moroccan spices, quite heavy on the cinnamon. It came out very tender, falling off the bone. We ate it with potatoes from her garden, fresh local corn, and a spicy carrot salad. Then in the morning we had pancakes, made bright yellow with eggs from the chickens who were scratching up the garden.

My contribution was a rustic apple cake for dessert. It's a Nigella Lawson recipe, from her Domestic Goddess book, and which was featured in the Canberra Times last Wednesday. I had all the ingredients on hand, especially the apples. These were a half dozen red delicious that I bought down the coast last week. I was optimistically thinking that as they were in season, glorious dark red, and unwaxed, they might be good. Disappointingly, they were terrible - floury tasteless rubbish. But even bad apples come good enough when cooked.

Recipe follows.
Recipe: Apple and Walnut Cake
100g raisins
75ml apple schnapps
150ml walnut oil
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
350g self raising flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon myrtle
450g apples
100g walnuts

Cover the raisins with boiling water for a couple of minutes, then pour off and add the schnapps.
Peel, core and chop the apples. You want 450g prepared weight, after discarding the trimmings.
Beat oil and sugar well, and add eggs one at a time, whisking until it is mayonnaise like in texture. A stand mixer is useful here.
Fold in the dry ingredients, then add the apples, walnuts, raisins, and any of their remaining soaking liquid.
Dump the batter into a well-greased 20cm springform tin, and smooth the top.
Bake at 180C for 45mins-1 hour, until top is golden and a test skewer comes out clean. Pop some foil on top if it seems to be browning too quickly.
Leave in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool.


Notes: Nigella's recipe uses 1 tsp cinnamon and the zest of a lemon; while I swapped in the cinnamon myrtle. Also she suggests rum where I used apple schnapps, and sultanas instead of raisins. According to the Canberra Times writer, other oils and nuts may be successfully substituted. And it's OK if the apples are partly precooked, too.

The batter really is quite thick, and it will not come out perfectly smooth on top unless you work harder on smoothing it than I did. It is beautifully moist, with the oil and fruit, and even better after a day's rest.

Friday, 25 April 2008

ANZAC biscuits

Because it's ANZAC day and you have to. It is your patriotic duty to eat biscuits, possibly with a nice cuppa tea. Also, to drink a lot of beer. I missed that bit, but the bloke did his part on that score.

ANZAC day is a funny thing. When I was at uni, it wasn't much celebrated, and the political crowd saw it as glorifying war. We occasionally protested, even. But it has changed over the decades, and seems to have been eagerly adopted by backpacking youth. Gallipoli would have been packed this morning. I'm in a small way quite pleased about this. As a nation, we have chosen to have a war memorial date that is not commemorating a victory, rah rah yay for us. The poor bastards who got dumped on that beach suffered actual bloody disaster; it was a catastrophic incompetent fuckup. This seems a much more suitable way to think about war.

Anyway, I grabbed my recipe from the War Memorial. It's pretty simple, here it is almost as they publish it, with a little metrification. For any stray American readers, these are sort of kind of a bit like oatmeal cookies. Historically they could be sent in the post, by ship, from Australia to Europe, and still remain edible.

Ingredients
* 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats, and dessicated coconut
* 125g butter
* 1 tbls golden syrup
* 2 tbls boiling water
* 1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

Method
1. Grease biscuit tray and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2. Combine dry ingredients.
3. Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bicarbonate soda, and add to butter mixture.
4. Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
5. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray, allowing room for spreading.
6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Source
Recipes taken from Robin McLachlan, Anthea Bundock, Marie Wood, Discovering Gallipoli: research guide (Bathurst, NSW: Times Past Productions for the Australian War Memorial, 1990)

Notes: Be careful when mixing the carb soda into the sugar & butter; it foams up a lot. I use silicon or baking paper sheets to avoid greasing the biscuit tray. Also, I tried adding some cinnamon myrtle this time, but it doesn't seem to have had a noticeable effect. It's really mild compared to the punch of lemon myrtle - perhaps next year I'll do lemon anzacs.

PS: Oranges are yummy. I bought a bag. Did you see? A cut up orange is nice to have on the plate along with your ANZAC bickie.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Pancakes and the River Moruya

I had a terrific weekend down the coast, at Michael & Belinda's house. We did a little shopping at Bateman's Bay - I got some black pearl earrings and a nice cheap red knit cardie - and had Friday night dinner at Monet's. We had a couple of walks, one round the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens, and one rock hopping at Guerilla Bay. We had a fabulous dinner at the River Moruya on Saturday night. Everyone except Michael slept very late on Sunday, and I made pancakes for our afternoon breakfast.

My usual pancakes, the ones I can do without looking anything up, are my Mum's Welsh pancakes. They're a little bit unusual, being rather thicker than a crepe but a lot thinner than a pikelet or an American pancake. Here's the recipe.

Welsh Pancakes
2 cups self-raising flour
2 eggs
milk, 1 to 1 1/2 cups
butter, about 1-2 tablespoons
currants, about 1/4 cup
lemons
caster sugar

Put the flour in a bowl, make a hollow, and put in the eggs. Whisk them in gradually, adding milk as you go, incorporating in more flour from the edges until it's all mixed in and not lumpy. Add enough milk to make the batter easily pourable, just a bit thicker than single cream.

To cook the pancakes, heat a small chip of butter in a frypan (nonstick is helpful). It should sizzle, but not burn brown. Pour on a dollop of the batter, swirl the pan around a bit to spread it out, and sprinkle over a few currants. Wait until the batter looks quite set - bubbles coming up - and flip it over to brown the other side briefly. They won't go very brown, as the batter contains no sugar. Just a nice light gold.

Sprinkle with some caster sugar and lemon juice, and roll up to eat. Makes about 12 pancakes. Yummy.

Notes: The vague quantities are deliberate. Recipe can be halved for two people. And I swear the weather seems to affect the amount of milk the batter needs. And how big a dollop of batter and chip of butter depends on the frypan you use - I use about a soup ladle and about 1/8 teaspoon per pancake. And as for currants, sugar, and lemon, that really is a matter of taste. I like lots of currants.

Regional reviews follow:
North St Cafe, Bateman's Bay
Good coffee, unusual cakes, many of them gluten-free. The lunch salads were very fresh and packed with fresh herbs. I had corncakes and salad, which was the lunch special, at $8. No meals over $20, I think. It's urban in style, with banquette seating and bright open space. I'd go back regularly if I lived round there.

Monet, Bateman's Bay

A French restaurant, BYO or a short but decent wine list. Decor runs heavily to French country, with lots of Monet posters. Not too bad for a local cheapie - the service was decent; the food was reasonable, but very Australian country provincial. The charcuterie plate ($18 for two) was just basic supermarket cold cuts; all the dishes had way too much iceberg lettuce everywhere. My fish with risotto ($25) was competently cooked, but too bland. The highlight was the outstanding Grand Marnier zabaglione ($12.50) - no iceberg lettuce there, but it did have redundant icecream. I suspect this might be a better lunch spot; it's a pleasing atmosphere and the crepes and salad looked like they'd make much better lunch dishes than entrees.

The River Moruya
Wow. My second visit and I'm just as impressed. This is a great place for a seriously good dinner out; though I think it's even better for a long lunch, because you get the river view in daylight. The Canberra Times didn't favour it as much as I think it deserves, but I hear on the grapevine that the reviewer had very poor service. It must have been a bad night. We've twice now had excellent service there.

I had an entree of scallops with pea puree and crisp crumbed cubes of ham hock - a terrific blend of flavours and textures. The assiette of lamb three ways had morsels of roast loin, slow cooked shoulder and crumbed sweetbread; all excellent. We had a side of green beans, with butter and almonds, cooked perfectly to just three seconds past squeaky. My dessert was another mixed plate, this time of citrus. I had a scoop of a stunning campari and grapefruit sorbet; a tiny but intense lemon creme brulee; and a flourless orange cake. The cake was pretty normal, good but not up to the amazingness of the others.

It's not a cheap night out - with my three courses and a share of a bottle of white, plus a couple of other glasses, I chipped in $90. But it seemed well worth it to me. We were celebrating a birthday and an anniversary; definitely a special occasion.

Ouch

Been home sick, with a urinary tract infection. If there's anything more annoying and painful than that, I really do not want to know about it. I was going to post nice stuff about pancakes and the River Moruya but I think that keeping it out of this post is the deal. Cause, like, ya know, ewww.

Friday, 18 April 2008

A Few Words about the Parlour

A few words about the new Parlour Wine Room, and then I'm off. The Parlour is a lounge bar in the old Hotel Acton, part of that massive new development down the lake end of Marcus Clark St. There's a restaurant and cafe there, too.

It's a great atmosphere, lots of lounges and comfy chairs, and old wood and Toulouse-Lautrec posters. The wine list is massive, and heaps of it is available by the glass. The cocktail list has major classics. The whisky list is by someone who knows their stuff. For food, they do a lot of salty tapas, and desserts. And it's open late even on weeknights - a perfect after theatre spot. A good find, it's one to add to the regular list.

So, anyway, I'm off. It's another weekend down the coast, and this time a proper dinner at The River Moruya. The cooking will be pretty light on next week, but I hope to have a post about books, and maybe one on eating without cooking.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Chestnuts on the menu

This week's menu has the odd bit of chestnut content, surprisingly enough. It's also a good example of how I try to make good use of leftovers and oddments.

Sunday night was Asian spiced beef - marinaded in soy, mirin and spices, then roast. Serve with spice poached chestnuts, pumpkin mash, and mixed stir fried greens. The recipe for the beef came from one of the flyers at the chestnut farms - it worked very nicely, except that my oven is even faster than expected, so I got medium instead of rare.

Tonight we've just eaten Toulouse pork sausage with chestnut and potato mash, apple sauce, and mixed steamed veg. The sausage comes from the City Market butcher; the apple sauce is a simple use-up of old apples that got left in bags for days uneaten. Peel 2 large apples, chop off bad bits, chop up, microwave for 3 minutes, stir. Done.

Tomorrow will be a non-chestnut meal - I'm using up some of the roast beef in a pseudo stroganoff. Stir fry sliced mushroom & onion, add sliced leftover roast beef, light sour cream, a dash of brandy; sprinkle with parsley and serve with fettucine and green veg.

After that it's on to leftovers and scratch meals, with chestnut, pumpkin and potato soup on hand. To make the soup, mix up the leftover chestnut mash with the leftover mashed pumpkin. Add chicken stock and milk, to get to desired thickness. Whiz with the stab blender if it seems necessary. A cup of soup and a sausage or beef sandwich is not a bad lunch.

Recipe: Chestnut Mash
250g peeled chestnuts
500g potato
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon brandy
salt, to taste

Boil chestnuts and potatoes together for 20 minutes. Drain, and mash well with cream and milk. Stir in brandy, and add salt to taste.

Notes:
I used broken pieces for this, and used the whole chestnuts with the roast. It was pretty good, though not as smooth and sleek as Christophe's. I used an ordinary potato masher; which I prefer for normal mashed potato. But perhaps a finer puree would be preferable in this case.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

Strawberry jam is worth making. For years I was under the impression that I didn't like strawberry jam, until one year I decided to make some for Christmas presents. Of course, I had to taste some - and the difference between this and mass market jam is just unbelievable. It's very simple and quick, too. And I found punnets of strawberries for a dollar apiece on Friday, so I just had to make some. Here's a basic recipe.

Recipe: Strawberry Jam

1 kg strawberries (cleaned weight)
1 kg white sugar
2 lemons
2 tablespoons cognac

Dehull the strawberries and cut off any nasty bits. Cut up if large. Put in a large preserve pan or stockpot, and add the sugar. Squeeze the lemons, put 1/4 cup of juice in with the strawberries. Wash the lemon skins and put them in the pan, too.

Bring to boil gently, and simmer for 5 minutes to soften the fruit. Raise the heat to boil. Test for set every couple of minutes, and when ready, turn of the heat. Let sit for ten minutes, then remove lemon rinds, add the cognac, stir well, and pour off into clean glass jars.

Notes:I got 1kg of strawberries from six 250g punnets of small berries. You can still use the bruised ones if you cut off all the bruised bits. Mould is a no-no. Some recipes tell you to skim off scum as jam is boiling. This is quite hard with strawberry jam as you get a great mountain of lurid pink foam in the first boil up. Just skim off any remaining white frothy bits after its ten minute rest.

The simplest way to test for setting is to shove a couple of saucers in the freezer. Drip a half a teaspoon or so of the syrup onto the saucer, pop it back in the freezer, and check it in a minute. If the surface wrinkles up, it's done. If it sets solid, it's overdone. If it's liquid, even if syrupy, it's not done yet. You could buy a jam thermometer, but I don't use them myself.

Clean glass jars can be soaked in a sink of hot water while the jam is cooking, then dried out in a warm oven. Or just dried with a clean tea towel. I've never had any problems with preserves going off from bad jars. The sugar is a heavy duty antibacterial preservative, as are the salt and vinegar you find in pickles and chutneys.

This is pretty much how I've always made my strawberry jam. I was tempted to try a variation, like using Jamsetta instead of the lemons, and a touch of balsamic vinegar instead of the cognac, but the classic appeal won for me today.

And now I must eat some for afternoon tea, even though I am going out to dinner. With clotted cream, which came from the shiny new Manuka Wine and Cheese Providore. On bread, because I can't be bothered making scones or pikelets right now. It's a nice grainy bread from Le Croissant d'Or, whose wonderful patisserie and bread are now being sold in Manuka through the Wine and Cheese Providore.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Chestnut Mania!

"Nuts About Bungendore" is a hazelnut and chestnut orchard just outside Bungendore. You can pick your own chestnuts, or buy ready picked, at $6-7 a kilo. It's chestnut season, and I went with Slow Food for a tour of the orchards, including some nut-gathering, and then on to a chestnut-themed lunch at Le Très Bon.

We also stumbled on a tiny local market in Bungendore - a part of the Weereewa festival - and couldn't resist stopping for a bit of a shop. I came home laden with not only a huge bag of chestnuts, but also some glorious locally grown rhubarb and apples, and some intriguing local cheddar style cheese which I haven't tasted yet. Also I picked up some lillipilli jelly and pickled garlic - made by Fiona's neighbour out on Mayfield Road. I couldn't resist the garlic - unlike the Asian style I described last week, this is a classic English pickled onion recipe, except with very unEnglish garlic. I'll have to try it with the cheese sometime soon.

It was a beautiful day to be wandering around an orchard - sunny and mild. The view from the orchard stretched out to the distant hills, and a pair of wedgetailed eagles circled in the bright blue overhead. The way to collect chestnuts is actually to pick them up off the ground, when the spiky burrs have just fallen. The burrs should still be slightly greenish. If they haven't split open by themselves, you can roll them on the ground with your shoe to open them up, and then pick the nuts out with gloved hands. It's strangely addictive fun.

To actually use the chestnuts, you have to peel them. The classical choice is to roast them - orchard owner Stewart Deans here has a dedicated roaster, while Christophe used an old frypan with holes in, on the open fire. Cut a small slit in the shell, and toast them until they just start to burn. Peel and eat, trying to avoid burned fingers - delicious just as is. Some people like to salt them.

If you want to cook with them, you have to peel them. There are various options like briefly microwaving, or boiling. I haven't cooked any of this lot yet, but last year I made some chestnut gnocchi, and I found that microwaving worked best for me. Slit the shells, nuke 'em in a single layer in a covered container for 2 minutes, wrap in a tea towel and peel while still warm. It's important to get the inner brown layer off, as it's quite unpleasant - a small sharp knife is useful for the most stubborn pieces.

Fortunately for us, Christophe and staff did all this work for our lunch. We had our chestnuts several ways - as a puree mixed with potato; whole on the side with a venison casserole and a pear poached in red wine; and for dessert a crepe stuffed with a sweet chestnut puree, with another whole chestnut to garnish. It was a beautiful meal. Beth's vegetarian meal was a leek quiche, which was rich with cheese and cream, and quiveringly just set, fresh out of the oven. The only fault I'd find was with the rather weak and bitter coffee. The food was beautiful, and so was the accompanying Cotes du Rhone red wine.

Chef Christophe is well known to Canberrans as the former owner and chef of Christophe's in Manuka. If you've been missing him, this is where he went - off to the quiet country life in Bungendore, where his restaurant is much bigger than the old back alley shop in Manuka. It's a nice country themed space, with old French advertising posters for decor. The service for our group was unfortunately very slow, but I suspect this was not normal. We did drag him out from the kitchen to do his roasting demo and talk. I'd happily revisit there, when I get a chance. The regular menu includes a cassoulet and a pre-dessert French cheese course - very tempting! He also runs some French cooking classes about one morning a month, with lunch included, but I'm just too busy this year.

Published!

Yes, that's me reviewing Pangaea in today's Canberra Times. And I'll be doing a few more reviews for them. It's an exciting opportunity, and it's been interesting to learn how the whole process works. I'm not entirely happy with how it reads - there's a house style that I'm yet to feel at home in - but it's my first. Yay!

Meanwhile, back at the blog, I've got a big post on chestnuts coming up soon, so stay tuned.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Aussie Scotch Egg Curry

This started out as a real proper kofta curry recipe from the Madhur Jaffrey Curry Bible. Except that it's got kangaroo instead of lamb mince. And I added eggs. In a fit of humour I put them inside the koftas, so they're like scotch eggs, except not deep fried. Which makes it a Scotch Aussie Indian fusion dish. Oh, and there's some extra vegetables thrown in, too, because I got too tired and busy to make a separate veggie curry. It's very nice. Tasty. The Bloke approved.

Is it only me that thinks this is hilarious? Yes? OK, fair enough. Dried frog pills this way, thanks. I'll just have a little lie down now.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Hi Folks

This is The Bloke.

As a home brewer and lover of beer, Cath has invited me to add an occasional post talking about beer and all things beer-like.

So you may expect to see an odd post or two from me in the future.

Just as an introduction you should know that I brew my own beer and have a fondness for boutique brews. Living in Canberra that means that I have to mention the Wig & Pen and Zierholz Brewery. Both make brilliant beers, though I definitely favour the W&P. Now that I am a blog contributor I have a very good reason to review their entire range, again.

More later, bye for now.

Muffins and Planning

Muffins again! The blueberry bran muffins last week were such a hit that I had to do them again, and this time I remembered to take a photo. They are delicious, especially hot from the oven, but beware! The bran makes them very filling. If you eat two, you won't want lunch.

We've been going through the calendar, and April is a crazy month. Apart from my usual music and dance classes, the calendar includes a play; two cabaret style concerts; my singing teacher's studio concert (I'm singing); a weekend down the coast; another commitment that I ain't tellin' about until next week; and the Anzac day "Tour de Pubs" (a long bicycle ride with lots of pub stops). Tomorrow I'm going nut picking with the Slow Food Canberra Convivium, but I just can't squeeze any of their other events into my April, much as I'd love to. May is starting to get booked, too...

So what are we going to eat? Last week I made a huge pot of chilli, and froze a good portion of it. I'm planning to defrost that after that weekend down the coast. This week I've got plans for a curry banquet - a kofta and egg curry, a dhal, and maybe a veggie curry, too. That should do two or three nights, perhaps with something leftover for the freezer, and I have okonomiyaki fixings, as well.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Is Korean the New Trend?

I had to go to Civic today for some vaccinations and other errands. Since I was in town, I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and have lunch at Godori.

After lunch, I went to Kim's Groceries - on the Petrie plaza walk, downstairs near the East Row bus station, to buy some Japanese ingredients for my okonomiyaki. Yes, Japanese, at the Korean grocery - Korea and Japan have a long and complicated history together, and the culinary traditions overlap to some degree. I'm told that many Japanese restaurants outside Japan are run by Koreans - the ANU Sizzle Bento certainly is. Anyway, Kim's is the place to buy both Korean and Japanese groceries - mostly dry goods and frozen but some limited fresh produce, too. Go there for your fresh, um, I mean home made kim chee, and obscure Japanese ice creams, as well as DVDs and info on the local Korean community. A helpful young man at the cashier's desk went and found bonito shavings for me when I couldn't recognise the packaging. And while thinking Korean, I've noticed that two new Korean restaurants have opened recently, one on City Walk and one on Northbourne Avenue. Korean seems to be popping up all over.

Godori is a tiny place on Petrie Plaza, which opened a couple of years ago. I can't recommend it strongly enough. Go there! Their food is fresh, tasty and elegantly simple. There are plenty of vegetables, many of them in light brine-pickled form, and hearty rice and noodle dishes. The Bi Bim Bab stone pot rice is fabulous - literally a hot stone pot, containing a layer of rice, topped with assorted fresh and lightly pickled vegetables, and a fried egg. A bottle of hot chilli sauce comes to table for you to add as you please. Add some pork, beef or squid if you want, or keep it vego. You should eat form the top at first, letting the rice sit a bit to develop a delicious toasted crust at the bottom of the bowl. A set with miso soup is $12ish.

They also make several kinds of gyoza ($5-9), and do other meal sets like Bulgogi (grilled beef or pork) and a kimchee hot pot. Seasonal specials turn up, too - I had a wonderful mushroom hot pot a few months ago, and an intriguing summery set of fresh salad leaves with salmon, salmon caviar and rice. Most dishes are in the $10-15 mark. Soft drinks and an intriguing variety of teas are available (try the quince and honey), but Godori is unlicensed. It is open in early evenings later in the week, and is a good option for a light pre-theatre meal. But I never get to do that with the Bloke, because they don't have beer.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Foodie Blogroll and other tweaks

I've just added the "foodie blogroll", a collection of foodie blogs, to my sidebar. The full blogroll is too long to display, but there's a neat little widget that shows you the newest entries, and a random selection of 10. I could waste a *lot* of time with that...

You may have noticed a few other changes - wider entry column, a link to Slow Food Canberra, a rearrangement of side elements, that sort of thing. I'm toying with adding google ads, too, just to see what it does - will I get nifty ads for local things, or will it be a big waste?

Is it all working for you? Let me know if any of this causes problems. I did find the foodie blogroll widget was slow to load the first time, but it seems OK now. (Presumably stuff is in my cache.)

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Pork, Cabbage and Potatoes - Thai Dinner

Yes, Thai! Not Irish or German at all. And very good, this is going to be a new regular.

You may recall that a few weeks back I went to a Thai cooking demo with Kate McGhie at Cooking Coordinates in Belconnen. She handed out a bunch of recipes, and this is one of them, as twisted and mangled by yours truly. Originally it has twice the amount of pork, and pork belly at that, none of this lean stuff. Also no potatoes, and slightly more red curry paste and oil, and chopped roasted peanuts. Omitting the peanuts wasn't a deliberate policy; I just forgot them.

Recipe 1: North Thai Tamarind Pork Curry
700g lean pork, cubed
1/2 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
150g block tamarind
1 litre warm water
100g pickled garlic
12 cloves red shallots, peeled, and halved if large
600g new potatoes
2.5cm piece very fresh young ginger
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1/2 medium cabbage


Marinade the pork in the sweet soy for 15-20 minutes, but not longer.
Meanwhile, make tamarind water. Soak the block tamarind in the warm water for 5-10 minutes, give it a good squeeze, then strain and discard fibres and seeds.

Heat oil and curry paste, fry until fragrant. Add palm sugar, fry a little longer to caramelise. Add fish sauce, then pork. Fry 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the pickled garlic and half the tamarind water to just cover pork. Simmer gently, uncovered, for an hour, then add the potatoes. Use remaining tamarind water to top up as needed. Add whole red shallot cloves, and simmer another 10 minutes

Serve on a bed of shredded raw cabbage, garnished with finely shredded young ginger and coriander. And peanuts if you have some...

Notes: Yes, shredded cabbage, not rice.

The curry is rich and strong, sweet and sour flavoured, and this is both cooling and a great textural contrast. I'd never have thought of it, so thanks to Kate McGhie. Pickled garlic comes from Asian grocers - buy the jars of peeled cloves, or make it by covering peeled garlic cloves in boiling vinegar, sugar and salt. It's not excessively strong. I've googled around a bit and this seems to be related to Gaeng Hang Lay, a northern Thai pork curry, and there is a Thai cucumber and cabbage salad, but the combination seems quite unusual.

Hang on, I've just found the pickled garlic recipe. I haven't made this myself, and don't intend to, but here goes.

Recipe 2: Pickled Garlic
2 cups peeled whole garlic cloves
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup salt, extra, for brine

Make brine by dissolving 1/4 cup salt in 1 litre water. Soak garlic in brine overnight. Drain and pack into clean glass jars. Bring all other ingredients to boil, then pour over garlic. Tap to remove air bubbles, then seal. Leave for a week or two before eating.

Notes: Did I mention I don't plan to make it? Peeling dozens of cloves of garlic, no thanks! I do make pickled chillies in a similar manner, though - they keep for months in a cool dark cupboard.