I took part in two cooking courses last summer: one in Vietnam and one in Laos. Despite preferring Vietnamese food generally, it’s two Laos dishes I’ve found myself making most at home. The first is stuffed lemongrass. It’s a cracker of a recipe and I’ll share it very soon. The second is Jeow Mak Keua – a very spicy aubergine dip/paste. It’s one of my favourite things right now. I like to eat it with brown rice and nothing else but it’s very nice as a side dish for grilled meat.
Jeow Mak Keua (As learnt at Tamarind cooking school)
1 medium aubergine
1 large red chilli
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 spring onion, chopped
Small handful of coriander. chopped
- Prick the aubergine all over then thread it on to a skewer along with the garlic and chilli. Cook under a hot grill or on the BBQ until charred on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Peel the garlic and chilli and pound to a paste with a pinch of rock salt using a mortar and pestle. (Remove the seeds from the chilli if you don’t want it too hot)
- Peel the aubergine and cut into rough chunks. Add to the mortar and pound with the chilli/garlic paste until combined.
- Stir in coriander and spring onion then add fish sauce to taste.
The final stop on our honeymoon last year was Louangprabang in Laos. We stayed for six nights but could easily have stayed six more.
Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve been gone for three months, shall we? Yes? Super. Accept this cute photo of Marco as an apology and we can just move on.
In fact, let’s just continue where we left off and pretend the following promised recipe isn’t terribly, terribly overdue. It’s a recipe for an onion tart. It’s very simple but it’s very, very good. We’re having it tonight with a lentil and greens salad (will share that soon too) and some rosemary bread. And I’ll undoubtedly polish off the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow morning – this is not a dish that lasts long in our house!
330g plain flour
½ tsp salt
75g cold salted butter
5 medium onions
Knob of butter
Glug of olive oil
½ tspn dried thyme
50g parmesan cheese
150 ml double cream
2 medium eggs
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and throw in the bowl. Quickly and vigorously rub the fats into the flour. Lift your hands high above the bowl to make sure the mixture remains airy. When the flour and fat are combined and resemble breadcrumbs, begin to add the cold water. Start with 30ml and mix in with a knife. Add water tablespoon by tablespoon and mix until the mixture starts to come together. Use your hands to create a smooth ball of pastry. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour. (See Delia’s instructions for more detail.) This makes more pastry than you’ll need. I freeze the leftovers.
- Meanwhile, slice the onions to 5mm thickness. Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly. When the onions begin to go translucent, add the dried thyme and continue cooking. I like my onions to be soft and just starting to go golden, for a sweeter tasting tart, cook the onions until golden and caramelised.
- In a jug, briefly whisk together the milk, cream and eggs with a little salt and pepper.
- Roll the pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin (3mm?) and line a 23cm fluted tart tin with it. Line with baking paper, add baking beans or dried chickpeas and blind bake for 25 mins in a 180oC oven. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a futher 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Add the onions to the base of the tin and half of the cheese. Pour over the milky/eggy mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 mins.
- Remove from oven when golden and set and let cool for 20 mins. This tart is much taster when warm rather than hot.
A Happy New Year to you all!
I’ve got some lovely recipes to share including a chocolate cake that even I wanted to eat and an onion tart which my husband didn’t say would be improved with a little chorizo/bacon/other meat product. That’ll be another night though. It’s the first Monday night back at work after the holidays and I’m good for nothing.
Have a peek at some Marco/food photos from over the festive period instead.
Do the weather gods read this blog? The clouds have cleared since my last post and the sun has shone on my wee world. It’s been glorious.
Hope you all had the Christmas you hoped for. x