An account of cooking my signature dish to serve six, plus a mention of a new book about autism.
This one will be somewhat different from the other posts in my Cornish Winter Breakseries – it is about the supper I cooked for six people near the end of my stay. I accompany it with pictures that don’t belong to any of the places I give specific posts to. Before getting into the main body of the post I have a small matter to attend to:
A NEW BOOK ABOUT AUTISM
“Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind” is now available in kindle and paperback. It is by Faye Flint, who happens to be the niece of NAS West Norfolk chair Karan McKerrow. I am looking forward to reading it, and you may be sure that when I have done so I will give it a full blog post. If you wish to join me in ordering a copy click here – the kindle version is the third item down and the paperback is the sixth.
I was cooking my signature dish – my own version of Lemony Chicken and Coriander (the original recipe is by Madhur Jaffrey, but I have made so many changes that I now claim this as entirely my own. For a description of the cooking process when I do it for myself visit this post. This version differed from my usual in several ways – I was cooking twice as much (it reheats superbly, so cooking three meals worth at once works well), my mother was cooking rice tog with it whereas I do pasta, and there was also going to be broccoli. Additionally, rather than having fresh lemons to squeeze I was using a bottle of lemon juice. The meal came together beautifully, the bottled lemon juice worked pretty much as well as the real thing, and the final product was excellent – a view evidenced by the fact that hardly a molecule of it was left at the end of the meal. I am aware that different cultures have different opinions on this matter, but as far I am concerned a total lack of leftovers is a sign of success in this situation.
An account of two staging posts on my journey back to health and fitness, plus a few links and plenty of photographs.
This post details a couple of staging posts on my recovery from the cancer that almost killed me at the back end of last year that occurred on Thursday and yesterday respectively. I end this introduction with a mini-challenge – below is a photograph of mine with all the colour removed – can you identify the butterfly in it? (answer located in the photographs at the end of this piece).
THURSDAY: THE SIGNATURE DISH
Due to my illness and the fact that this requires over an hour of cooking time I had not done it in about a year, but, emboldened by my all-clear on Monday and generally improving state of health I had resolved to try it. I obtained most of the necessary ingredients by way of an online Sainsbury’s shop, delivery arranged for 3-4PM on Thursday. However, I realized that I had forgotten to order lemons and went across the road to the local shop to buy them (annoyingly they came packaged in plastic – ugh!!). I could simply refer you to my first ever blog post and leave it at that, but I am going to describe the process as it occurred.
Just after 5PM I squeezed the lemons (four of them), assembled my extra flavourings (two teaspoons ground cumin, one tea spoon ground coriander, one and a half teaspoons salt), and measured out 150mls of water. Then I prepared the ginger paste by chopping half a ginger root into chunks, adding a little water and whizzing them in my mini-blender until the mixture was paste-like. After that I started cooking the chicken thigh fillets in the pot I would be assembling everything in for the final stage (a minor irritation – there were five of them, when six what have been a much better number). While the chicken was cooking I chopped the stalks off the fresh coriander (a 100g bunch) and then chopped half a head of garlic as small as I could manage. Once the chicken was golden on both sides I placed it in a bowl and covered that bowl with a plate. Then I put the garlic in the pot and stirred it while it cooked for a minute, before adding the ginger paste and stirring the mixture together. Then I added the fresh coriander and extra flavourings to the mix, stirring it all together for about another minute before adding the chicken and associated liquid from the bowl. Then I added the lemon juice and water, and stirred again. At this point I turned the heat up for long enough to get the mixture bubbling, turned it down again and put the lid on the pot. I then left it for 15 minutes to pick up flavour (my evening carer arrived at this point and was impressed by my efforts). A quick taste of the mixture confirmed that I had not lost my touch, and I then started the water boiling for the pasta accompaniment (the original recipe from which I created my version stipulates rice as the accompaniment, but it works at least as well with pasta and the latter is easier to cook). Once the pasta was cooked it was ready to eat, and I served myself two of the thigh fillets, and spooned a decent quantity of the juices over my pasta. It was an excellent supper, and I shall eat the rest of it tonight.
SATURDAY – TO TOWN AND
BACK UNDER MY OWN STEAM
I had arranged to have lunch in town with my aunt, and had decided to use the occasion to test out my improved health by walking there (and, I hoped, back). We had arranged to meet up at 1PM outside the Lynn Restaurant. My music session (at the Discovery Centre, which from the point of view of the walk to town is effectively the same as starting from my bungalow) ended at 12:15PM, which left me 45 minutes to reach my destination, and I had some library books with me – my plan was to take a view at the train station as to whether to divert to the library to return them or take the more direct route to my destination. When I checked the time at the station there were 20 minutes remaining, which was enough for a quick call at the library to return the books. I duly arrived outside the Lynn restaurant dead on 1PM. My aunt suggested a new restaurant which had opened up where Top Shop used to be, but when we got there it turned out that we would have a long wait for our food, so we reverted to the Lynn Restaurant. The meal was excellent, and at the end of it I felt strong enough to make the return journey on foot, and again went by way of the library to take some more books out.
I was very tired by the time I arrived home, but for the first time since becoming ill I had walked to and from the Town centre unassisted.
CODA: THIS MORNING
This morning once my carer had called I went out for a walk, and emboldened by yesterday, I went to The Walks, heading as far as the Vancouver Garden, where the bandstand is located, before returning by a different route – taking the path the St John’s Walk, and then heading along Tennyson Avenue, crossing the main road at the lights and taking a cut through to Columbia Way that I have known for some time although not used in a while – it involves several short sections of firm but unsurfaced road which can be traversed in one by a pedestrian but not by a motorist.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
I have a few links to share before we get to my usual sign off:
Welcome to the next post in my series on my holiday in Scotland. This one is different from most of the others as it does not feature photos. The theme is Thursday’s supper, which was my signature dish.
LEMONY CHICKEN AND CORIANDER
Although the version of the dish that I am describing differs from the original by enough to count as my own, it developed from a recipe created by Madhur Jaffrey (hence the reference to cultural appropriation). Courtesy of the Fort William branch of Morrisons and a little forethought I had the following ingredients at my disposal:
1 large ginger root
1 head of garlic
eight chicken thighs
70g of fresh coriander
To start my mother grated half of the ginger, which I then mixed with a tiny amount of water to form the necessary paste. I assembled my mix of salt and dried spices (2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander and 1 and a half teaspoons of salt mixed together in a cup). Having consulted with my mother as to how much butter would be necessary to equate to a tablespoon of olive oil I melted the appropriate quantity in the largest available pan and having removed the skin from the chicken thighs put them on to cook. This done I squeezed the lemons, and commenced chopping the garlic. I had initially envisaged using the whole head of garlic, but by the time I had chopped half of it as finely as I am capable of I reckoned based on experience that I had sufficient chopped garlic for my purposed. Removing the chicken from the pan I added the garlic and stirred continuously for about one minute, until it picked up some colour (the stirring is because I did not want it in direct contact with the base of the pan, when it would have burned). Now it was time to add the ginger paste and stir thoroughly. Roughly chopping the fresh coriander that went in next along with the ground cumin, ground coriander and salt mix. Then the chicken went back in, followed by the addition of the lemon juice and a tiny amount of water. Then once this mixture had started to bubble I put the lid on, turned the heat right down and had a fifteen minute lull, which I used to attend to some of the cleaning. Having tested the mixture at that point and found it good it was time to attend to the pasta. 15 minutes later the meal was ready. I started by serving each person two thighs and some pasta, over which I drizzled some of the juices (more generously for my father who is not that keen on pasta than for the rest of us).
Everything got eaten, including the two bonus thighs.
The reason for the imprecision in the description of the cooking is that I know from experience when I have enough of any given ingredient. The biggest difference between my version and the Jaffrey original in that that one incliudes chili and cayenne, neither of which I use, because while I like strongly flavoured food, as this was, I do not like to blow the roof off my mouth. Also she recommends much more oil than I use.
Some good links to various interesting and important items, an important infographic in among them, a couple of classic recipes and some excellent images.
Before I get into my own stuff, I have some links to share…
I start with a series of posts about the general election that has just happened:
First up, the ever reliable Mike Sivier of Vox Political. It was also Mr Sivier who provided the introduction to the my next post, written by David Hencke. Another frequent source of good material is John P Ointon who blogs as notesfromthenorth and who provided a fine response to the general election. My final piece of election related material, given that the Tories have an absolute majority in the house on 36% of the votes cast, is a petition calling for a change in the system of parliamentary representation courtesy of change.org, accompanied by a graphic showing what the the break down of MPs would be under PR…
A combination of two busy and eventful days and a sleepless night in between (following the election) has meant that I have not posted recently. I revisited a classic recipe of mine this week, my own customised version of Madhur Jaffrey’s Lemony Chicken and Coriander, although rather than using thighs I used a half chicken cut into managable size pieces with the aid of ‘the world’s sharpest knife’. This recipe featured, along with another that I have not used in a very long time in my first ever blog post. Here are both recipes in a graphic…
The ‘PR’ graphic I put up earlier of course is based on actual votes and not on how people would have voted had PR been in force (e.g. I voted labour in the general election for a combination of reasons which would not have applied under PR – the question would have been whether to vote Green – as I did in the local elections – or for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, TUSC). In view of the number of people who clearly did not vote the way they had told pollsters they would, here is photographic proof that I did precisely what I said I would…
I have done some interesting imaging at work this week, finishing off the May stuff and imaging one piece of stock for the June sale that needed to be protected from damage…
These date from Thursday, now some stuff from yesterday…
At the start of this post I shared various things from other sources, because they had made an impact on me. If you enjoyed this post I would be very grateful for you to share it, and I also encourage you to share individual items from within it if they particularly appeal to you. My final words, once rendered by the estimable Mr Bilbo Baggins as “thag you very buch” are embodied in the image with which this post concludes and apply to all who read it through to the end: