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My Cookbooks - A Passion for Thai cooking, Sompon and Elizabeth Nabnian

I have always loved Thai food, while the dishes may be simple the complexity lies in the flavour combinations and getting the right balance between hot, sour, salt and sweet. I travelled around Thailand many years ago and was lucky to do a course at the Chiang Mai Cookery School run by the authors Sompon and Elizabeth Nabnian. Sompon also had a Thai cookery programme on the Food Network channel too which I was a big fan of.
The book has influenced my cooking  I still make my own pastes from scratch as it tastes so much better. Many of the pages are now stained with ingredients as I use it so much. To this day I still have to look up the paste ingredients just to check I haven't missed anything despite the fact I have been making them for 14 years. 

You will find classics such as Thai Green curry with chicken and Red curry with duck, satay, fish cakes and pad Thai. From there you can build up a bigger repertoire for traditional recipes. The book also goes through the basic Thai store-cupboard ingredients which thankfully now can be found in the supermarkets.

If you're looking for a book that will give you a good basis for Thai cooking then this is a good start.

My Cookbooks - The Ballymaloe Cookbook, Myrtle Allen

As many of you might have come to know I may have one or two cookbooks. I thought it might be nice to share with you on a weekly basis what I have in my collection. 

This is considered one of the classic Irish cookbooks from the late Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House. She was a chef who championed the Irish food movement and who encouraged us to eat local and seasonal before it became fashionable to do so. This is the 50th anniversary edition and many of the recipes still stand the test of time, while some of the recipes will now seem a tad dated. There are also some wonderful anecdotes about her experiences as a chef at home in Ireland and abroad.

You'd be surprised to know out of all the cookbooks I have in my collection I only have a mere four which are Irish cuisine related. Something I think I should rectify. I suppose having lived longer out of Ireland than having lived there now (it's 25 years since I moved), my influences are more international than regional. 

Pancakes with berry compote

These american style pancakes are something that has been a weekend brunch staple for years in our house. I like to vary the fruit component depending on what is in season. You can make the compote in advance and have it ready in the fridge for when you want to make a batch of pancakes. All you need to do is warm it through before pouring over the pancakes.
Berries of choice, roughly chopped (cherries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, whatever is in season or even frozen berries if you so wish)
15g sugar (or honey)
30ml water

Place the berries in a pan with the sugar and water and cook on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the juice from the berries has released
Continue to cook until the juice has reduced and become a thick syrup
Place in a lidded jar until such point as you need it
This will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge

130g self raising flour
5g baking powder
Pinch of salt
30g caster sugar
2 eggs separated
70ml milk
oil or butter for cooking, about 50g

In a bowl add the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, stir to combine
Add the egg yolks and milk and stir until you have a stiff batter
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks 
Fold the egg whites through the batter gently until mixed through

To cook the pancakes
Ensure your pan is on a medium heat
Place a small amount of butter or oil in the pan and allow to melt
Pour a small amount (about 50ml, or two heaped dessert spoonfuls) of batter into the pan
Allow the underside to cook for 3 minutes
Flip the pancake when it starts to form bubbles on the top and cook for a further 3 minutes
Repeat for the rest of the batter mix

Serve with the compote 

Happy Birthday to me! Four years!!!!

Another year has passed by with many recipes and many reviews that have hopefully been enjoyed by you, my readers. 
Kitchen Exile has been going now for four years, it's come a long way and I've certainly enjoyed the journey thus far.

The only plans I have for Kitchen Exile is to keep on cooking and writing, my favourite time of year is coming up, Autumn, so the plan is for more game recipes. 
I'd like to thank all of you that have supported and followed me over the years on various social media. 

Now all that's left for me to do is go and eat those coconut muffins that I baked in the picture!

Here's the original recipe for the muffins which was originally a cake, but I sometimes like to separate the cake mixture into muffins and adjust the cooking time to 20 minutes. 

Fettuccine with tomato and pancetta sauce

In the summer I love to make tomato sauces with fresh rather than tinned. This sauce has a nice sweet and salty side to it with the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and the salty pancetta. It is simple dishes like this that always taste the best, the key is ensuring you use local tomatoes in season, even better if you have tomatoes in your garden.
200g '00' semolina or pasta flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Place all ingredients into a food processor and whizz until it forms a ball
Cover in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour to rest
After it has rested, roll out flat to about thickness 4 if you have a hand pasta roller or 5 if you are using the kitchen aid setting
Then use the fettuccine setting on your pasta roller to cut it into the right shape
You can hang it on a pasta dryer (or back of a kitchen chair or stair bannister) until your sauce is ready

500g roma, pomodoro or vine tomatoes roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion finely chopped
10g dried oregano
100g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
20g tomato puree
20ml extra virgin olive oil for frying
2-5g sugar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
50g freshly grated parmesan to garnish

In a pan fry off the garlic and onions for 10 minutes on a low heat until soft and glossy
Add the pancetta and cook for another 10 minutes
Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and stir to combine
Cook for 15 minutes on a medium heat
Add the oregano and sugar and stir through, cook for a further 5 minutes
To finish season with the salt and pepper

To finish the dish
Cook the fettuccine for 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water in a large pan
Once the pasta is cooked, add 20ml of the pasta water to the sauce and stir through
Add the pasta from the pan it was cooked in to the sauce and stir gently to ensure it is completely covered
Sprinkle with the parmesan

Salmon with a pesto crust

Succulent fish with a glorious crispy topping. This salmon dish has some great contrasts in flavour and texture. relatively simple to put together, it will make a great dinner party dish. 

2 salmon fillets (skin removed) about 150g each
100g pesto sauce (find the recipe here) mixed with 70g bread crumbs

10ml oil for frying

Place the pesto crumb mix over the top of the fillets until they are fully covered 
I start this off in a pan and cook the underside of the salmon for about 1 minute
I then place under a medium grill for 5-8 minutes until the top starts to crisp
I like my salmon on the rare side so if you want yours cooked that little bit longer, move the grill shelf lower down in the oven and cook the salmon on a medium heat grill for 10 mins ensuring that you don't burn the crust

Home made ketchup

Everyone has a bottle of ketchup lurking in their fridge, its a universal store cupboard staple. Have you ever considered making your own? Now that tomatoes are in season and full of flavour its a great recipe to have to hand. Nothing beats home made ketchup and it is so easy too. 

1kg tomatoes
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon – about 3cm long
2g freshly grated nutmeg
100g brown sugar
150ml red wine vinegar
5g smoked paprika
10ml maple syrup
Juice half lemon
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion halved
Pepper and salt

50ml olive oil

To prepare the tomatoes, onion and garlic set your BBQ up for indirect cooking at 120c, add some hickory chips for extra flavour
You can also roast the veg in an oven if you don't want to BBQ, 120c (fan) 130c (normal) 
Place the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil
Cook for 90 minutes in the BBQ or oven
Allow to cool
Roughly chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes
Place the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients in a pan on the stove top and bring to the boil for about 5 minutes
Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened
Once cool, remove the cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves, you can either blend further to give a smooth sauce or keep it rustic if you like
Pour into sterilised airtight jars, this will keep for up to 3 months in the fridge