I’d heard of gougères before I made them, but I could never really understand why people raved about them so much. Basically, these are cheese puffs, made from the same kind of pastry usually used for patisserie like eclairs or choux buns – except this is a savoury version. They’re just cheesy, pastry bites – but in this case, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Trust me when I tell you that these will be devoured in short order at your next party – and they’re so chic you can even serve them for something formal as well as a BBQ!
If you have some guests coming over for Halloween and you want to serve something in the spirit of the celebration, then have I got a recipe for you! There are loads of foods themed for children, but this is a slightly more subtle recipe that takes an old classic and gives it a little tweak to make it suitable for All Hallow’s Eve!
Spooky Swampy Green Thai Curry Recipe
This recipe makes enough for 10-12 people, when served with rice.
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 6lb pork shoulder, diced
- 4 tbsp green Thai curry paste
- 3 cans light coconut milk (400ml each)
- 3 cans full fat coconut milk (400ml each)
- 2 sticks lemongrass
- 40 dried lime leaves
- 60ml fish sauce
- 6 tsp sugar
- 200g frozen chopped spinach
- 2tsp green food colouring
- 1kg frozen broccoli
- Coriander to garnish
- Rice to serve
- Fry the pork in batches until browned, and set to one side.
- With your last batch of pork, add in your curry paste and cook for a minute.
- Add a splash of water to the pan to bring up any juices stuck to the base.
- Gradually add in your coconut milk, stirring well to remove lumps.
- Add in the lime leaves and lemongrass, and return the pork to the pan.
- Simmer for 30 minutes or until the pork is cooked.
- Add in the fish sauce and sugar.
- Add in your spinach and food colouring, then test for seasoning.
- Now, if you’re making this overnight, allow to cool and place in the fridge, so you can remove excess coconut oil when it has solidified. Or, you can skim the oil from the surface with a ladle.
- Around 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the frozen broccoli, and then cook until piping hot. Alternatively, to keep the broccoli’s colour, parboil, then refresh under cold running water, then run it under boiling water and add to the pan at the last minute.
You can also read more about other Halloween food from past years here!
Although I love my gingery spring roll recipe more than any other variation on the spring roll theme, sometimes a girl needs a change. Otherwise, we’d only ever have one pair of shoes, right? No, that doesn’t sound right at all!
Anyway, these are spicy, crunchy, Thai-spiced spring rolls, which are delicious as part of a Thai meal, or as a starter, or as part of a buffet. Make up your own excuses to eat these! Whatever reason (aliens, hurricane, big puddle outside your house) it’ll be worth it. Like a lot of Asian recipes, the ingredients list seems intimidating, but once you’ve chucked everything in, you’ll realise that long lists don’t mean lots of work! Also, if you can’t find minced turkey, you can substitute minced chicken or pork. Lamb and beef will be too powerful here, though.
To make these spring rolls for bento boxes, buy the largest size spring roll wrappers you can get, and then divide them into four quarters. Make sure that all the ingredients are finely chopped, and trim the noodles to a shorter length.
Thai Spring Rolls
- Packet of 15cm/6 inch square spring roll wrappers
- 50g cellophane/harusame noodles
- 250g minced turkey
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 red chillies
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- Ground pepper
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 70g beansprouts
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
- Oil for deep frying
- Sweet chilli dipping sauce
- Put the noodles in boiling water to soak for 10 minutes, then rinse under cold water, drain thoroughly and cut into 5cm lengths to make them easier to eat.
- Heat the oil in a wok and fry the turkey mince on a medium heat, until the mince is separated and cooked through. Then add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and cook until the mince is slightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic as it will turn bitter.
- Now add the noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar and mix well, adding pepper to taste. Turn the heat low and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Put the carrots, beansprouts, coriander and mint into the pan, stir and take off the heat.
- Now to wrap your spring rolls. Place your spring roll wrapper diagonally on the work surface and fill the corner nearest to you with a tablespoon of mixture. Pull the corner up over the top and then roll twice – you should now be roughly to the centre of the wrapper. Fold the two corners into the middle and then continue to roll it up, sealing the end with water – this is vital or your roll will pop open when you fry it.
- The frying method is the same for Chinese spring rolls – you can use a deep fat fryer at 170 degrees centigrade to cook your spring rolls, or heat them in a pan of hot oil. To test the oil is hot enough, add a spring roll – if it sizzles and the oil bubbles around it vigorously, you have it right. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes, then drain. If your rolls go dark brown too quickly, turn your heat down.
- To serve, arrange on a plate with a dish of sweet chilli dipping sauce.
These are seriously the most delicious spring rolls I have ever eaten, so I’m really excited to share the recipe with you – I hope you get a chance to try them out and fall in love too! Forget soggy beansprouts and weird gloopy sauce, these spring rolls are a meal in themselves – because you won’t be able to stop eating them once you start…
You can freeze these ahead of when you want to eat them, but you should thaw them before deep frying. Just prepare the filling and roll up the wrappers, then pop in a single layer in your freezer. The ones pictured are normal size, but for bentos buy a large packet of spring roll wrappers and then cut them into quarters for cute mini spring rolls!
- 1 pack large spring roll wrappers
- 2 chicken breasts, shredded
- 75g cooked prawns, cut into small pieces
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 100g bean sprouts
- 75g grated carrot
- 50g grated onion
- 3 square centimetres fresh ginger finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
- Oil to stir fry and deep fry
- Mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame seed oil and chilli flakes.
- Heat your wok to a medium heat. Stir-fry the chicken in 1 tbsp oil until it’s white, then reserve and drain. Remove excess moisture from your wok and heat some more oil.
- Fry the ginger for 30 seconds, then add the garlic, frying for one minute. Add the grated onion and spring onion and cook until it has softened. Watch your temperature here – you don’t want to brown the ingredients. If the wok gets too hot, remove it from the burner for a few seconds.
- Add the carrots, bean sprouts and prawns and cook until the bean sprouts are slightly translucent.
- Pour on the beaten egg and mix. When the egg has solidified, add the soy sauce mixture and the egg and mix thoroughly. There should be no excess liquid – all the seasoning and egg should cling to the ingredients. Leave to cool.
- To assemble your spring rolls, place your spring roll wrapper diagonally on the work surface and fill the corner nearest to you with a tablespoon of mixture.
- Pull the corner up over the top and then roll twice – you should now be roughly to the centre of the wrapper.
- Fold the two corners in to the middle and then continue to roll it up, sealing the end with water – this is vital or your roll will pop open when you fry it.
- Now for the deep frying – at this point it’s probably best to say that deep frying can be very dangerous – if you’re concerned, then use a deep fat fryer at 170 degrees centigrade to cook your spring rolls. Heat the oil in a pan. Test the heat by adding a spring roll – if it sizzles and the oil bubbles around it vigorously, you have it right.
- Cook on each side for a couple of minutes, then drain. If your rolls go dark brown too quickly, turn your heat down.
- You can make a dipping sauce with light soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar to taste. Add chilli flakes, chopped spring onions or a slug of sesame seed oil for a special touch.
Leftovers at Thanksgiving can be so much more than a simple rehash of that Turkey Day meal (although, let’s face it, that’d be pretty darn delicious anyway!). Try these recipes for delicious leftovers – I promise you, none of them will feel like second-best meals! In fact, you might be tempted to roast another turkey (or chicken) just to make some more!
- Hot and numbing chicken
- Hoisin chicken buns
- Chilli chicken salad
- Miso-chicken ramen
- Bang Bang chicken
- Roast chicken risotto
- Chicken egg fu young
- Elegant turkey soup
- Red Thai curry
Simply make your turkey or chicken soup using a carcass, covered with cold water. Add in extras like peppercorns, herbs (woody or hardy herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme are best), onions and carrots, and allow the stock for simmer for as long as you can – all day if possible. Top up as needed. When you’re ready, drain away everything except the stock, then add to a clean pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the stock is a tasty soup – you may need to reduce down to a half of the original volume.
To give this dish pretty presentation, fill a bowl with shredded turkey or chicken, and thin cut, cooked vegetables (you can cook them in the broth while its reducing) cut into shapes. Add a sprig of rosemary – this will scent the broth as well as being a pretty garnish. If you really want to impress, serve the bowls as pictured above, then pour the turkey stock from a beautiful presentation jug right at the dinner table!
Egg fu young is a very westernised dish; basically a Chinese take on an omelette. The name is said to derive from ‘fu young’, which is a kind of hibiscus with beautiful flowers. The dish consists of eggs cooked like an omelette, with a variety of fillings, served with a savoury brown sauce. You can adapt this recipe to use a huge variety of different fillings – I’ve used prawns, ham and chicken/turkey – but use any filling you like!
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 100g beansprouts
- 75g left over chicken or turkey
- 75g raw prawns
- 75g ham, cut into small pieces
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 200ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- Prepare the sauce by adding all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and the water to a saucepan.
- Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in your frying pan, and put over a high heat. Add your garlic and spring onions, and allow to fry for a few seconds, until they begin to smell fragrant. Add the beansprouts and stir fry for a minute, then add the raw prawns, chicken and ham, and cook for another minute, or until the prawns are cooked through. Drain the excess liquid off and into your saucepan for the sauce – this ensures your omelette isn’t soggy when it’s cooked. Set the mixture aside, and when slightly cooler, add the beaten eggs and the soy sauce.
- Clean the frying pan, then add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan over a medium heat, and ladle in half of your egg and filling mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn over and cook for a further minute the other side.
- Drain the omelette on some kitchen towel and keep warm. Repeat the cooking process for the remaining oil and egg mixture.
- Finish your sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, and meanwhile mix the cornstarch and the water together thoroughly. When your sauce is boiling, add the cornstarch mixture, and stir until the sauce thickens and boils.
- Serve the omelette on a warm plate with the sauce spooned over the top. This will serve two adults for a main course or four for a lunch or snack. If you wish to serve more people, the best thing is to reduce the size of the frying pan you cook the omelette in, as thinner omelettes are harder to turn. Best served with plain rice.
Egg fu young is easy to adapt and you can use plenty of different fillings to vary the taste. If you’re a vegetarian, you can replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and leave out the meat. You can try bamboo shoots, peas, carrots, onion, peppers, mushrooms, celery, cucumber or water chestnuts. Just make sure that anything canned in water is drained thoroughly, and tougher vegetables like carrots and peppers are cooked through before you make your omelette. Left over roast meat is brilliant here – or try char siu or leftover duck. You can even play around with the sauce – some recipes call for chilli sauce, garlic, spring onions, vinegar, Chinese rice wine and sugar as added ingredients.
The best leftover recipes don’t taste like leftovers. This recipe totally exceeded my expectations. I think the secret is poaching the chicken at the end very gently just to warm through. It actually tastes better than the curry I make from raw chicken, as the meat is very soft.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1.5 tbsp red Thai curry paste
- Can of coconut milk
- 2 lime leaves
- 1 stick dried lemongrass
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- Leftover chicken
- Finely chop the ginger and garlic.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and ginger. Fry for a couple of seconds and then add the Thai curry paste.
- Allow to cook for about a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients except the chicken.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes until the texture is slightly thicker.
- Dice or shred the chicken, then add to the curry and poach on a simmer for five minutes.
- Serve with Thai jasmine rice.
Well, it’s officially nearing the end of the summer, and that means that it’s our last chance to make use of some seasonal produce before… well, let’s not kid ourselves – pretty much everything from the summer is still available all winter round, albeit at a price. But my late summer favourites are strawberries, tomatoes and corn on the cob, and it’s now that these babies come into their own. All of these are on sale at supermarkets, but if you get yourself to a farmers’ market, you can get them even cheaper. Punnets of strawberries for a couple of quid, tubs of cherry tomatoes for 70p, I even bought five ears of corn for a pound a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a great recipe I found in a foodie magazine ages back, for a crispy crouton and spicy tomato salad. Although it’s called Panzanella in my recipe folder, panzanella is usually made with bread that’s a bit soggier than the stuff you’ll find here. This recipe gives you fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, drizzled with a spicy, garlicy dressing, and pepped up with crunchy, crispy croutons. It’s one of my favourites, and you can make it all year round thanks to the supermarkets. But why not make it now, when everything’s at its cheapest and best?
Recipe for Crispy Panzanella
- 2 large garlic cloves
- One red chilli
- Sea salt
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 200ml olive oil
- Small red onion
- 450g tomatoes
- Black olives
- Half a cucumber
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 red pepper
- 1 very small loaf, torn into small chunks
- Handful of basil leaves
- Turn the oven onto medium heat and drizzle some of the olive oil over your bread chunks. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and bake in the oven until crunchy and golden brown.
- Cut your salad ingredients (pepper, cucumber, tomato, onion).
- Crush the garlic and chilli together in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt until you get a pungent paste.
- Mix the vinegar, sugar and olive oil together, and whisk in your chili, garlic and sea salt.
- Mix together the dressing with the vegetables, and allow them to sit for around an hour.
- Wait until just before serving to pour the veggies and sauce over your croutons, to keep them crispy and fresh. Tear over the basil leaves and serve.