Satay Noodles

Time saver: when the lady wants satay noodles, she gets satay noodles.

When I asked what to cook for tea tonight, I got told “satay noodles”, so that’s what I did. The key thing with satay for me is getting the balance of the sauce right. It’s easy to end up with a really rich sauce that tastes great at first but quickly becomes overbearing. A lot of recipes use milk, cream, or coconut cream and that sometimes contributes to the problem, so this time around I left those out.

Quick note, I used tamarind paste, which is a fairly unusual ingredient for New Zealand cooking. It’s quite sour and has an interesting taste, and you can find little jars of it in most supermarkets. If you don’t have it and don’t want to buy it, just use the zest and juice of a lemon instead.

I hope you like it. (I’m nuts about nuts, so it works for me.)

Satay Noodles – serves 4

  • 500g rump steak
  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 Tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 3-6 Tbsp peanut butter (depending on how peanuty you like it)
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste OR zest and juice of a small lemon (could add this even if you use the tamarind paste just for an extra kick)
  • 1 Tbsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp or 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil (or another vegetable oil – not olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, ends trimmed, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 head brocolli, cut into florets
  • 2 courgettes (zucchinis), ends trimmed, cut into rounds
  • 600g udon or hokkien noodles
  • 1/2 cup water (more if needed)
  1. Trim fat from steak, then cut into strips (cutting across the grain) and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped shallots, Thai sweet chilli sauce, peanut butter, tamarind paste, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and chilli flakes. (If using lemon add this too.)
  3. Pour the sauce over the meat and stir through to coat meat evenly. Leave to marinate for a few minutes.
  4. While the meat is marinating, prepare the other vegetables.
  5. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan (electric non-stick is great) on medium-high heat.
  6. When the frying pan is hot, add the meat and sauce mixture (scrape out bowl so you get all the flavour). Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes till meat is seared, then add vegetables and continue stirring.
  7. After 2 more minutes, add the water, stir thoroughly and continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Add the noodles, stir well then cook for a further 3 minutes. Add water as needed if sauce starts to dry out. Then serve.

Ruby’s Prawn and Vege Fritters

Time saver: these come to you from my friend Ruby. It’s like a complete meal, in a fritter.

Close up prawn and vege frittersI was going to make these a few times and settle on a combination I liked, but it turns out that if I wait until I do that, I’ll never get another post up (and that would make baby pandas cry).

This recipe is copy and pasted more or less verbatim.The quantities are a little vague, so you sort of get to interpret it however you want to. When I made it I think I used a bit too much cabbage (I used about 1/8th of one), and next time I wouldn’t cut the prawns so small (I used about 200g prawns, next time I’d go for a bit more than that). I also didn’t have coriander (well I do, but it’s bolted and lost all its leaves), so I used fresh parsley and a few mint leaves instead.

They’re pretty tasty, and I’m sure you can tweak the recipe to take it wherever you want. (E.g. you could add a bit of crushed garlic and ginger, and then add a bit of lemon or lime juice and a dash of fish sauce to the sweet chilli sauce you serve them with for a more Thai flavour, etc.) If you want to serve it as lunch/dinner, all you need is a bit of a side salad to dress it up. Anyway, here you go:

Ruby’s Prawn and Vege Fritters – serves 3-4

They can be as big or as small as you want (I prefer smaller ones – they tend to cook a little better) makes around 12 – give or take, depending on size.

  • 1½ cups standard flour
  • ¼ tsp of tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 1 egg
  • water to mix (between ½ to 1 cup of water) depending on what consistency of fritter you like
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives
  • spring onion
  • cabbage (finely chopped)
  • carrots (finely chopped)
  • fresh coriander
  • 5 large prawns (or as many as you like!) (Phil’s note: I’d go with at least 250g prawns, and don’t cut them too small)
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • oil for frying
  1. Chop up the veg (as much or as little as you like).
  2. Make batter with top ingredients (Phil’s note: put flour, tumeric and chicken stock powder in a bowl, make a well in the middle and crack the egg into it, then pour water into well, mix well with a fork, starting in the middle and working out till the batter is smooth, season with salt and pepper).
  3. Add veg and roughly chopped prawns to batter and mix well.
  4. Cook in hot oil. (Phil’s note: heat around 3 Tbsp oil in a frying pan over a high heat, then spoon heaped tablespoons of mixture in to the frying pan and flatten slightly to make a round fritter. Cook on each side until golden brown, then serve. I got about 20 fritters doing that. I recommend using peanut oil for a bit of flavour, but otherwise use whatever you have.)
  5. Serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Prawn and vege fritters

Pizza Sauce

Time saver: whip up a fresh-tasting pizza sauce in no time.

I’ve been making a lot of pizza recently, and as a result I’ve been running out of the tomato paste I’d normally use for the pizza sauce. So, to save a trip to the supermarket I figured I’d make my own. It takes a little longer (not too much longer once you know what you’re doing), but tastes great and is definitely worth it.

This works really well on the New York Style Pepperoni and Mushroom, Blue Cheese and Pesto pizzas. I make this in a large saucepan since the bigger surface area leads to faster reduction.

Pizza Sauce (makes enough for two 12-14″ pizzas)

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove or ½ tsp crushed/finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • (optional) freshly cracked black pepper to taste (crack over sauce once it’s spread on the pizza base)
  • (optional) 1 small onion, peeled, cut in half along equator OR 2 celery stalks cut in half lengthwise, chopped into 10cm lengths – these are used to imbue a bit of flavour, but are removed from the sauce before it’s used
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan, then add garlic and onion/celery if using. Saute briefly, then add tomatoes, sugar, oregano and salt.
  2. Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from catching, and keeping on a high heat, reduce down to about a quarter of the starting volume.
  3. Remove saucepand from heat, and then remove onion/celery from sauce and discard.
  4. The sauce may still have a few bigger chunks of tomato in it – I like these, but you could mash/blend/stick-mix them out.
  5. Spread 3-4 Tbsp over each pizza base, then season evenly with freshly cracked black pepper.
  6. If you’re only making one pizza you can freeze the leftover sauce, or keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.

Midori and Lemon Sorbet

Time saver: Summer’s on its way, cool down with a refreshing sorbet.

Midori and lemon sorbet - in shotglassesThis is a variation on the classic lemon sorbet. The sweet melon flavour of the Midori complements the tartness of the lemons, while also adding a little colour. Although I’ve used Midori, you can probably get away with any of your favourite liqueurs/spirits.

Your freezer needs to be quite cold when making sorbet (or you’ll have to wait a long time for it to freeze). If you leave the sorbet too long without beating it (particularly before the first round of beating) the syrup may freeze solid. if that happens, just leave it to thaw for a few minutes, then beat and return to the freezer.

Midori and Lemon Sorbet

If well beaten, this recipe makes just shy of 1 litre.

  • 2 c water (use filtered/bottled water if the tap water is chlorinated)
  • 1½ c white sugar
  • 1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 6-8 lemons, more if they’re small)
  • 3 Tbsp Midori Liqueur
  1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan, heat on a hot element, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Let it come to the boil, and simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. While the syrup cools, juice the lemons. Strain the juice through a sieve into the saucepan of syrup, add the Midori, and mix well.
  4. Pour the syrup into a shallow freezer proof bowl and place bowl in the freezer. (I normally just use an old 2 litre ice cream container.)
  5. Leave to freeze for a couple of hours, then retrieve the bowl and beat with electric beaters/stick mix. After beating, return to the freezer.
  6. Repeat the beating process a couple more times, with hour long intervals. The more you beat it, the lighter and smoother the sorbet.
  7. Serve in chilled glasses. For a palate cleanser, use 40ml shot glasses, for dessert use larger chilled martini glasses.

Midori and Lemon Sorbet - in cocktail glass

Pan-fried haloumi with balsamic roasted tomatoes and salad

Time saver: Is it possible to transcend deliciousness? To go so far beyond it that mere words could never capture the experience? To leave people speechless with nothing to do but lick their plates? But of course…

Haloumi Balsamic SaladI came up with this as the entrée for my Retour tribute menu. It uses pan-fried haloumi, along with balsamic roasted tomatoes and a balsamic reduction to really pack in a lot of flavour. (The reduction is sweet, sticky, strong flavoured, with a tart fruity flavour. The tiniest of drops is a taste sensation. If you haven’t had it before, it’s almost unbelievable that balsamic vinegar can be transformed like this.)

This gives two lunch sized main servings. For entrée sized servings, use the same amount but distribute between four plates.

Pan-fried Haloumi with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Salad with a Balsamic Reduction

  • Balsamic roasted tomatoes, prepared according to the recipe
  • 200g haloumi cheese, cut into slices around 5mm thick
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp (approx 15g) pine nuts
  • ½ c balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 90-100g mesclun salad greens
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Toast pine nuts in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat – stir or shake the pan frequently to cook evenly. Once browned, remove from heat and transfer pine nuts to a small bowl/plate and set aside.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar to a small pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then add the sugar. Stir constantly to avoid burning the vinegar, and reduce to around ¼ of its previous volume (i.e. this yields about 2 Tbsp of reduction), at which point it should become syrupy. Avoid breathing in the fumes as you’re cooking, it’s essentially boiling hot acid and you will know about it.  Remove from heat and set aside. (As it cools the reduction will thicken – if it’s too cool it will be hard to drizzle, so you can heat it a little or add a little hot water to get it free-flowing again.)
  3. Divide the salad greens between two plates, piling them into the centre of the plates.
  4. Heat a large (ish) frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  5. When hot, melt the butter in the pan, then quickly add the sliced haloumi. Fry on the first side for around two minutes till golden brown, then flip and fry for another 60-90 seconds on the other side. (The pan needs to be quite hot before adding the haloumi to ensure the cheese fries and browns, rather than melts.)
  6. Transfer haloumi to a standby plate, then assemble the meal as follows.
  7. Place around half the tomatoes on top of the plated salad, then arrange the fried haloumi on top of it. Distribute the remaining tomatoes on top of the haloumi. Sprinkle each plate with 1 Tbsp each of the toasted pine nuts. Using a teaspoon, drizzle balsamic reduction over the tops of the salads, going side to side across the plate in a weave pattern. Then turn the plate 90 degress and drizzle 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on to each salad, again in a side to side weave pattern. Then serve.

Haloumi Balsamic Salad 2