- Leafy Sea Dragon
Welcome to my new blog! My name is Thomas Sutcliffe, and I have just been appointed Group Leader for the King’s Lynn Support Group for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s in late 2006 and was involved in the original establishment of the King’s Lynn Support Group, which had its first meeting in late 2008, and meets on the first Friday of every month at the British Red Cross building, Austin Fields, King’s Lynn. Having been a volunteer Group Leader since the group started I was considered a natural choice when Asperger East Anglia decided to recruit a Group Leader to give our group greater independence. Anyone is welcome to attend. For more details about Asperger East Anglia as a whole, visit www.asperger.org.uk.
The photo accompanying the title is one I took at Melbourne Aquarium/ Oceanarium, of a leafy sea-dragon. I chose this picture for the role because I like it and also because it is not quite what it seems to be at a casual glance.
In each post I will include something connected with one of my hobbies, starting today with cooking…
A COUPLE OF KITCHEN SPECIALITIES
This section comprises details of my own style of home baked bread and also my own version of Lemony Chicken and Coriander (this is derived from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe but I have changed it so much it is now basically my own creation).
1: HAND BAKED BREAD THOMAS STYLE
This is a wonderfully simple method for producing high quality white bread.
Ingredients (for one half-kilogram loaf):
300g strong white flour+ 
¾ tsp of yeast
1 tsp of saltFirst assemble the starter by mixing 100ml water with the yeast and adding 100g of the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a thick paste. In summer one can use cold water straight from the tap, but in winter it works better if one uses warmer water (my own method is to boil a kettle and mix approximately 50mls of boiling and 50mls of cold water). Once you have a thick paste cover the mixing bowl (I usually use a plate for this purpose, but a tea-towel also works) and leave to stand overnight.
The next morning, add the second half of the water and the salt, stir the mix, and then add 200g of flour and mix thoroughly. Remove the wooden spoon, and cover the dough. On at least two separate occasions through the day (no upper limit), toss in a little flour and knead the dough rapidly but vigorously (I rarely knead for more than about 30 seconds on any single occasion) before re-covering. In the evening put down a small amount of flour on a kitchen work surface and spread out the dough as flat you can get it with your hands before folding it into the shape of the loaf, making sure that in this process you drive out any trapped air. Place the loaf in a well oiled baking tin, cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise overnight.
First thing on the following morning turn an oven on at 2200C and bake the bread for 40 minutes. Remove the bread and place on a wire grid to stand and cool. Once the bread has cooled it is ready to eat. It is best when cutting these loaves to cut slowly with a sawing motion so as to avoid crushing the centre of the loaf. Loaves prepared in this way keep fresh for two or three days and toast very nicely thereafter. Personally I always claim the first (crust) slice as baker’s privilege.
2: Thomas’s Version of Lemony Chicken and Coriander
This is a beauty, easy though quite intensive to prepare and absolutely delicious. As with the bread recipe the ingredients can be factored up or down from my list so long as they are kept in proportion. Note that the ginger and the garlic are given as approximations.
Ingredients (makes three portions):
6 chicken thighs (or thigh fillets)
The juice of 2 lemons
150mls + 4 tbsp water
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
1+ tbsp salt
1 large bunch fresh coriander
Half of a ginger root
Half a head of garlic
Start with some basic preparations, juicing the lemons, and assembling the salt and ground spices (I put these together in a small cup and give it a shake to combine them). Then prepare the fresh coriander by removing any thick stalks and chopping it in the blender (this can be done by hand but is fiddly). The final preliminary stage, once the coriander has been transferred to a small bowl, is to chop the ginger into smallish chunks and place in the blender together with the 4 tbsp of water, and blend into a paste.
Put some olive oil in a large pan on high but not maximum heat (I normally start at four on our ceramic hob and switch down to three once the oil is hot enough) and remove the skins from the chicken pieces (if you use fillets you save yourself this part of the process) before putting them in the pan. The chicken should be cooked until it is golden brown on both sides, turning once. While the chicken cooks, chop the garlic roughly until it is in pieces small enough to dissolve in the cooking. Both for turning the chicken and for subsequent stirring operations a slatted spoon should be used.
Remove the chicken and place in a bowl, covering securely. Then put the chopped garlic in the oil and cook, stirring continuously, until the garlic colours. Add the ginger paste, stir thoroughly and cook for approximately one minute. Then add the ground spices and salt, and the fresh coriander and stir thoroughly. Add the chicken pieces and any accompanying liquid, 150 mls of water and the lemon juice, and stir thoroughly.
Bring to the boil, and then turn the heat down to minimum, cover the pan securely, leave for fifteen minutes, stir thoroughly and cover and leave for another fifteen minutes. While this process is going on cook your chosen accompaniment (Rice and pasta both work well).
 You can factor up or down as appropriate, so long as you keep the ingredients in proportion
 As will become obvious when I describe the process of making this loaf flour gets added to the mix at other stages than the first.
 The reason that is possible to use more salt than yeast is because this process occupies a considerable time, so the yeast can work slowly, and it is desirable to do so because the resultant loaf tastes better.
 This means err on the side of generosity.
 This prevents any of the garlic from sticking to the base of the pan and burning.