Testing out the Thai red curry kit

I got round to trying out the Thai Curry Kit which was offered to myself and readers of this blog recently.

And it worked out pretty well.

The resulting meal was fresh, tasty and quick to prepare. I served it with some stir-fry veg and jasmine rice

Following the instructions on the packet, it took the 15 mins they suggested it would.

A couple of things to note. I don’t like my curry red hot so I only used the suggested 2/3 of the packet of paste which was given a two chili rating. I found it quite mild and would definitely use the entire sachet next time.

I’ve never used powdered coconut before and probably added too much water.

Verdict: I’d use this again, I thought the generous serving of herbs and the small amounts of those sometimes difficult to get ingredients such as fish sauce made for an easy to achieve Thai dish. Next time, the massaman mix….

@ Mark Addy, Salford

The Mark Addy has been a part of a shared history for hubby and I for many years. Originally a college haunt for him hanging out with his student chums and eating a staple diet of cheese and pate – the only food on offer – then later a place to share a beer in the sunshine with me in the waterfront beer garden by the Irwell.

Now its basic beery past has given way to gastro pub-ness with the well known Robert Owen Brown in position as executive chef presenting a menu of traditional dishes.

On the subject of the menus, they come emblazoned with the claim “Manchester’s original riverside pub” which struck me as odd, considering it’s actually the Salford side of the river but hey, what’s a historic boundary matter when it comes to marketing?

Onto the all important food.

I went veggie for my starter with the spinach and nettle dumplings stuffed with Garstang blue cheese stuffing and sauce. This was no limp lettuce of a veg dish with its full on robust flavours and spongy dumplings and the not-for-wimps attitude set the tone for the rest of the meal.

Take the classic game terrine for example, not only did Himself manage to eloquently describe the dish as “meat on meat…. with extra meat” it came with an accompanying sprig of green stuff – in a gun cartridge case.

Macho stuff!

My main of hot pot with pickled red cabbage was as good as I expected it to be with melting chunks of well-seasoned lamb and his pheasant breast (although a little over cooked) showed Owen Brown signature characteristic of packing meaty dishes full of flavour.

I was unable to pursue anything more to eat but, perhaps for nostalgic reasons, he insisted on having the cheese selection. The largest single cheese serving ever seen arrived with interesting regional varieties, mountains of crackers, grapes, chutney, celery.

Sitting in the long dining area under the stunning brick vaulted ceilings of the former boathouse waiting room and looking out across the water to the soulless glass of Spinningfield’s chain restaurants, the Addy gives some hope for those of us who want more than vertical drinking and burgers from their city nights out.

Oh, and you can still get plates of cheese and pate.

The Mark Addy, Stanley Street, Salford, just a stone’s throw from Manchester, M3 5EJ.

tel: 0161 832 4080 email: info@markaddy.co.uk

Offer: Claim a Thai curry kit for review

The Thai Curry Company has been in touch to offer fellow food bloggers the chance to try out its curry kits. Helen from the company says;

“They are pretty hot and spicy and come from my Thai daughter in law’s family recipes. If interested I would love to send you some samples.”

I’ve got a red and a Massaman on its way to try – will let you know how I get on.

If you’d like a sample, contact joe@thaicurrycompany.com and let him know which blog you write.

Want to run your own restaurant?

A car salesman and an astrophysicist might sound like an unlikely partnership to start restaurant business, but Paul Brook and Daniel Moran are setting out to make foodie dreams come true using an idea they saw used successfully to form a football club.

The Bradford Telegraph and Argus reports how the businessmen hope to attract £20,000 for the venture via the website run yourownrestaurant.com

“They aim to fund the restaurant through the investors paying a £29.99 registration fee, with the first 1,000 able to register for free. Each investor will earn the right to take part in a weekly vote on how to run the business for two years during which time they will also get a share of the profits.”

More information via the T&A article here.

New Year diets: From cavewoman to real women

I love this time of year if for no other reason than marvelling at all the host of different ways to achieve that ‘slimmer, sexier you’ that require no effort whatsoever.

From the celebrity top tips to the pseudo science, the creativity involved in saying ‘eat less and do more exercise’ (without ever actually saying it) is a testament to the ingenuity of writers, book publishers and editors everywhere.

Take today’s Sunday Times Style as a perfect example. The Cavewomen Diet, we are told is a “revolutionary new diet” that promises to “get you the body you were born to have”.

Ignoring a nagging feeling that there’s been some sort of invasion of bodysnatchers which has left us all with bodies that don’t belong with us, it was interesting to read that this diet has been “an enormous success in America”.

After all, the fattest nation in the world should to be able to teach us Europeans a thing or too. But the most remarkable thing about the article was the helpful illustrations of a young woman who’s been able to successfully shed a good few pounds by dispensing with all her clothes.

If you’re interested in this diet (taken from a book called The Evolution Diet), the short version is eat more fresh fruit and veg. Vive la revolution!

Turning away from such things as Cheryl Cole’s brush with biology (the Blood Group eating plan) or Naomi Campbell’s maple syrup sweet solution, I’ve been heartened to hear some good sense in these matters from the food bloggers I follow.

Rachel Rambles for instance has (like myself) declared January to be booze free in a bid to get 2011 off to a healthy start and is documenting her calorie counting adventures in a refreshingly honest, and helpful,way:

“Yesterday evening I was given a fab tip off about an iphone app by a couple of lovely tweeters, the app’s called My Fitness Pal and is free to download, or you can do it online.  I downloaded it last night and entered in what I’d eaten yesterday and was so shocked – my 2 mince pies cost me over 500 calories!  Damn you Mr Kipling!  I ended up being 700 cals over!  It’s worked out OK though, because my cycle on Monday burnt off plenty of calories.

“The problem I had with weight watchers is I would store up the points for the end of the week and then binge drink and binge eat at the weekend, I’m trying to avoid doing that this time – which is easy whilst I’m not boozing.”

Similarly MissCay at Little Red Courgette is easing into a healthier New Year and puts forward a delicious sounding recipe for Chinese broccoli beef  to get things on track explaining;

“As a rule, I tend not to believe in diets. A bad experience with Slimming World last year and their exhortations that nothing tastes as good as slim feels has made me look upon them as the work of devils, charlatans and people who don’t appreciate the sheer unbridled meaty joy of a good steak. However, seeing as I am a) getting married next year and b) decidedly lardy, something has got to give.  So, I have decided to take up running again, only indulge in booze at the weekends and attempt to eat a healthier diet. For now anyway.”

No nudity, no bizarre rituals – I’m sticking with the blogosphere for inspiration this year.

Cookbooks explored by Bakelady

If you’re still looking for some inspiration on which cook books to buy in the sales, a visit to the Bakelady’s blog today could cut down on the research.

In her post, Some of my favourite cookbooks she takes a look at a whole host from Kitchen to Barefoot in Paris and introduces the pleasure of reading such recipe-laden treats;

“Looking at the wonderful pictures and being inspired by the recipes helps my brain to relax and get back to sleep.”

The British pub is dead. Long live the British pub

“Their loss is also the disappearance of a kitchen, or a sitting room, or some comfortable dim place where there is warmth and a welcome, and no questions asked, all over Britain.”

This detailed, informative and affectionate look at the plight of the British pub was published at The Economist just before Christmas, but I wanted to highlight it again now in case it got overlooked during the holiday season.

The fact it’s written by the obituaries editor speaks volumes.

Please Jamie, can we have some more (time)?

Seems Jamie Oliver is causing a bit of a stir with Christmas cookbook readers accusing him of poor timekeeping.

His bestselling 30-Minute Meals might have been top of the stocking list, but should more properly have been named One Hour Meals according to those who’ve attempted the recipes.

Amazon reviewers certainly are in no doubt;

“Unfortunately I received 2 copies this Christmas and both are being returned. I think Jamie’s great but this book has done him no credit at all. The recipes can not be made in 30 minutes. And many are extremely expensive too. Avoid!”P. Gedge.

“I’ve tried 5 recipes and enjoyed everyone, especially the Jerk Chicken. Only negative point is that 30 minutes is wishful thinking, I cook quite a lot and so know my way around the kitchen and am averaging about 45-50 minutes.”Steve.

“Last night I cooked the Piri Piri Chicken and, in spite of being an experienced and competent cook, it took me more than an hour, just for the one course. Most of the time was spent in trying to work out which bits I should be following and the absence of any timings for some procedures.”Mrs Janet Parr

……..and so on it goes with some of Jamies’ fans wading in to defend the new style cookbook and point out that the amount of time taken doesn’t matter too much.

Being a bit of a slow food fan myself I’d have to agree that there’s no need to rush for good food but, in this particular case, it’s easy to appreciate the upset as the whole USP of the book would appear to be around convenience.

Time undoubtedly = money for a busy celeb like Jamie and with more than one million copies rung through the tills already, that’s quite a lot of half hours he’s clocked up from time-hungry followers.