We cooked with Nigel Slater at IHCC from April to October 2014, but the British chef and I were kitchen buddies way before that when a copy of his Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-To-Eat in 30 Minutes caught my eye at a used book store several years ago. My slightly battered copy is my go-to when I want quick. low-effort-but-high-delicious food on the table. He has prettier, nicer cookbooks that are also treasures--Notes From the Larder and Tender for example, but Real Fast Food will always have my heart. I was going to cook from it this week but instead i found myself googling "Nigel Slater summer soups" and it lead me to his "Asian Broths" article in The Guardian which had two soups I knew I needed to make. Because I have had noodles and curry on the brain lately, his Summer Vegetable Laksa won out over his Miso Broth with Greens (there is always next Sunday I suppose...). ;-)
I have been a fan of laksa (I'll let Wikipedia give you the laksa details if you aren't familiar) since first encountering it in Singapore and Malaysia and I liked the sound of Nigel's: "The basic laksa recipe, with its aromatic paste, noodles and soft vegetables, is often thick with seafood, such as prawns and crab, but this need not be the case. I often include only vegetables, mostly of the squash, tomato or courgette bunch, occasionally adding a few green leaves."
Although I tend to go the easy route and buy a packaged laksa paste, Nigel's version seemed quick and easy enough in the food processor. I made a couple changes--noted in red below--including making it vegan with this vegan fish sauce (if you use tamari in place of soy sauce it's gluten free).
Nigel says, "Make the paste as spicy as you wish by altering the amount of chillies. Two small red chillies should give quite a kick, but much will depend on the chillies. You could omit them for a mild, aromatic version. The paste will keep for a few days if covered with oil and kept, covered, in the fridge."
Summer Vegetable Laska
Slightly Adapted from Nigel Slater via TheGuardian.com
tomatoes medium-sized, three or four (I used 4 Romas)
red chillies 2 (see Notes/Results below)
garlic cloves 2 (I used 3)
lemon grass 2 stalks (I used 3)
coriander leaves a generous handful (I used leaves and stems)
vegetable stock 400ml (about 13.5 oz)
coconut milk 400ml (about 1 13.5 oz can)
vermicelli noodles 100g, dried (I used 8 oz Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles)
courgette 1, large (I used 4 small zucchini)
finger aubergines 8 (I used 2 Japanese eggplant)
fish sauce 1 Tbsp (I used this vegan fish sauce)
(I added extra cilantro leaves and Thai basil leaves to the finished soup)
Put the tomatoes, red chilli and peeled garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Peel and discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass, roughly chop the inner leaves and add them to the tomatoes with the coriander. Blitz to a coarse, soft paste.
Put the paste into a large saucepan and cook lightly for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Pour in the vegetable stock and the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Lower the heat so the soup cooks at a gentle bubble, then slice the courgette and cut the aubergines in half lengthways, and add to the soup.
Leave the vegetables to simmer for 6 or 7 minutes until fully tender. Pour boiling water on the noodles and let them soak for a couple of minutes according to the instructions on the packet. Season the soup with the fish sauce, then drain the noodles and add them.
I would say that I liked it!
Notes/Results: This was such a good bowl of soup--fairly quick and easy to make and full of delicious flavor. Nigel's curry paste goes together quickly in the food processor and I enjoyed the lemongrass flavor that gave the soup a Thai feel. I added to that by throwing in some fresh Thai basil leaves along with the cilantro to garnish. Heat/spice is always subjective but I found this to be fairly mild--just a slight kick and a warmth of the throat. I am a bit leery of things being too hot so I used 2 red jalapenos, removing the seeds and membrane from one and leaving them in the second. Next time I might leave the seeds in both. Rather than using the thin vermicelli noodles called for, I wanted to use a sturdier, thicker noodle and I like Annie Chun's Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles for the 4 grams of fiber, while still being gluten free. Veggie noodles would work well too. You could also play around with the veggies in this too--although the zucchini and eggplant, along with the fresh herbs make it perfect for summer. I would happily make it again.
I always like to go back and review my favorite recipes when we feature one of our past IHCC chefs. It's fun to remember what I cooked and loved--although bad to do on an empty stomach. ;-) I had plenty of favorite Nigel Slater recipes but made myself pick just five--but you will find another six honorable mentions below! :-)
Slater's decadent Blue Cheese Mash with Cavolo Nero (from The Guardian)--a take on colcannon is the stuff dreams are made of--at least if you are like me and dream of mashed potatoes, blue cheese, butter, rosemary and kale. ;-) I always have to laugh at this one because a healthy blogging group re-tweeted my post and this recipe as part of their "healthy weeknight dinners" once. I know it had kale in it, but this is definitely not a health food (even if it was paired with salmon), but it sure is worth every calorie!
One of my favorite all-time salads is Nigel's Pan-Fried Apple and Cheese Salad (from Real Fast Food) as it is such a great combination of fall flavors and textures (and it's so pretty too!). Pan-frying the apples (my beloved Honeycrisp) and pairing them with a simple farmhouse cheese and spiced walnuts is heavenly. Yum! I want it to be apple season already so I can make it again.
It's not that I don't love pie, or cake, or other baked desserts but puddings and mousses will always have my heart. And make it puffy-clouds of syllabub with lemon and you have a true winner. This Limoncello Syllabub, my adaptation of Nigel's classic syllabub (from The Guardian) is my idea of a perfect dessert. Doesn't it make you want to fall into the glass and rest their while you lick it up?! (Maybe it's just me?!) ;-)
I adore fish soups and chowders and Nigel's very simple, but very delicious Quick Fish and Corn Chowder (from TheGuardian) is one of my favorites. I made my version with a mix of salmon from my freezer and fresh local opah. With a few small changes (I am like that!) including leeks, tarragon, and a little Old Bay Seasoning for giggles, it had tons of flavor.
I have eaten plenty of bánh mì--a Vietnamese sandwich with French influences but had not really ever made one. My meat-free version of Nigels's Bánh Mì --'Sour, Hot, Crisp, Soft. A Sandwich for the Senses' (from Notes From the Larder) was amazing, thanks in a large part to the simple but extraordinary pickled veggies--with rice vinegar, ginger and star anise. (OK, I think I am making some of them this weekend...) I used soy crumbles instead of Nigel's ground pork, but with all of the flavor, you wouldn't know it.
Finally, it was tough to choose just five favorites so my honorable mentions include the recently made 20-Minute Rice Pudding, his simple Pasta with Butter and Parmesan, his summer-perfect Zucchini with Basil and Goat Cheese on Toast, frightfully easy and yummy Sesame Salmon with Mirin, his so-easy-it's-not-quite-a-recipe Buttered Eggs and finally his Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce--which I first made on his pasta dish as written but since then, have used on soup, fish, as a salad dressing and a bunch of other things. Whoops--I guess I should have made it a Top 11 list! You can see more/all of my Nigel cooking posts by clicking on the Nigel Slater tab on my side bar.
This post will be linked up to IHCC's July's Monthly Featured Chef: Nigel Slater post at the website once it goes live tonight. You can see what Nigel Slater dishes everyone picks to make.
We had a great group and some lovely dishes shared at the Souper Sundays linkup last week. (Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)
(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
Here's the roundup of what was shared this past week:
Two yummy salads from Debra at Eliot's Eats! First was this Picnic All-Star Pasta Salad, perfect for the season. Debra says, "I deviated quite a bit from the original recipe, basically because my avocado that was destined for this salad was a bit funky looking after I cut into it. No avocado for this all-star, but I ended up throwing in some other fine ingredients. This salad is perfect for a picnic or Fourth of July cookout because there is no mayonnaise or eggs to cause your guests harm if the fireworks show runs long."
Debra's second salad was this movie-inspired Insalta Russa (Russian Salad) she made for our Food 'N Flix viewing of I Am Love. She says, "The addition of the dill in this salad makes all the difference; otherwise, I am afraid it would have been a bit humdrum. I really like how this came together and it is a perfect alternative to a regular potato salad. I think this salad will make an appearance at our Fourth of July celebration."
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a chock-full-of -good-things salad and says, "Behold the Turkey Cobb Salad - this was wonderful. It wouldn't give me heartburn to eat salads like this for lunch every. single. day. That won't happen but still...this is a great salad. Lettuce, tomato, green onions, bacon, turkey, boiled eggs and cheese."
Claudia of Honey From Rock made Rick Bayless's Tinga Poblana (Smoky Pork and Potato Stew) from her recent Authentic Mexican cookbook purchase and said, "We loved this flavorful Mexican feast of a savory, spicy stew, with light side salads of mixed greens, and warmed flour tortillas. The stew is garnished with slices of avocado and cheese. I added in sprinkles of cilantro."
Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made a summer squash and veggie medley that is the key ingredient to both a summer salad and a summer soup. Judee says, "Got yellow summer squash? Try this easy recipe that can be made into a quick summer soup or a delicious summer salad!" First, Yellow Squash Quinoa Salad (Eaten hot or cold as a quinoa salad).
Then Yellow Squash and Carrot Soup Topped with Red Quinoa (You can eat this soup hot or cold).
Flour.ish.en Test Kitchen made Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing and said, "The creamy garlic dressing works wonder with the slaw. The minced garlic is the star. It adds a welcoming pungent flavor to the raw vegetables. Kohlrabi works better for me in a slaw than cabbage. It has a crisp and delicate flavor that plays well with the garlic dressing and the avocado. This is a light and lovely slaw that I would enjoy throughout the summer."
Joyce of Kitchen Flavours adapted a Curtis Stone recipe for a Club Sandwich with Lemon & Garlic Chicken, saying, "Spread some mayonnaise on one slice of the bread, top with the chicken breast, and some lettuce, then place another piece of bread on top. Enjoy! We certainly did! The chicken was so moist and tasty! This is such a simple yet so delicious sandwich!"
Yes, I do call a taco a kind of sandwich and these Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with Pico de Gallo (which is pretty much a salad BTW!) from Curtis Stone were too delicious for me not to share with Souper Sundays. The fish is marinated in a mix of cilantro, garlic and olive oil and had so much delicious flavor. Yum! Just looking at the picture makes me want more.
Thanks to everyone who linked up last week!
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...
To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
- Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.
- please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
- you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).
Have a happy, healthy week!