Monday, February 20, 2012

A sharp rap on the knuckles and a recipe for tonight's supper

You can't see me but I'm holding out my hand so that you can give me that rap on the knuckles I said you could if I hadn't posted something by Friday. Last week was so crammed full of things to do that I had very little time to spend in the kitchen or at the computer. This is why this blog post is three days late and why I broke my promise.

You might go easy on me if you knew what I'd been up to though. I spent two days in Dublin tracking down bargains for the café. I've now got cutlery, glasses, cups and saucers, plates, bowls and some kitchen equipment. It sounds like a lot but I still need tablecloths (which are quickly turning into the bane of my life), sugar bowls, salt and pepper shakers, milk jugs and much more.

As well as shopping, I've sanded and varnished the floor of the café (or should I say my boyfriend did this - this past week, he has been more helpful than I could ever have imagined anyone to be and I'm so thankful). I placed an ad in the local paper for staff and have so far interviewed two people and set up interviews with two others (it's so strange to be the one asking the questions at interviews!).

This week, I'm buying tablecloths, enlisting family and friends to help paint the interior (if you're reading this and you are a member of my family or a friend who lives in Dingle, consider yourself forewarned!), finishing kitting out the kitchen, dealing with suppliers and having meetings with an accountant and a solicitor. Once all that is done, things should be almost ready to rock.

In the meantime, I'm not always going to have a huge amount of time or energy to cook at the end of the day. That means I'll be preparing lots of dishes like this - dishes that are simple to prepare and cook, that are flexible enough to work with whatever you happen to have in your fridge and are always full of flavour.

But when I think of it, these are the kinds of dishes that I tend to cook a lot during the week anyway. This Thai-inspired dish is one of my favourites and as it's such a versatile recipe, it might just become one of yours too.

This recipe started life as an Avoca Café recipe for green bean and coconut soup but I've adapted it to turn it into a much more filling supper dish.

It's a flexible recipe too. I've used prawns here but in the past I've used monkfish, chicken pieces that I've pre-fried in some oil and ground coriander and pieces of hake that I pre-fried in oil with chopped green chilli.

I serve this dish with basmati rice and if I'm very hungry and in need of carbohydrates (as I have been these busy days), I also serve one pitta bread per person. I think it would also be good with some slurpy noodles.

Feel free to experiment. This is a very forgiving recipe.

(Serves two hungry people with plenty left over for lunch the next day)

15g/half an oz of butter
4 spring onions, cut in half lengthways and then into 5cm strips (include the green bits)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 teaspoons finely chopped lemongrass (be sure to remove the dry outer layers first)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
100g green beans, topped, tailed and chopped so that they are approximately as long as the carrots
1x400ml/14 fl oz can of coconut milk
100ml vegetable stock
110g bean sprouts
14 prawns, peeled and cleaned
1 tablespoon nam pla (if you don't have this fish sauce, season with salt)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander

150g basmati rice
2 pieces of pitta bread, olive oil and sumac (if using)

  • Start by preparing your vegetables, lemongrass, garlic and ginger. You want them to look something like this:
  • Put your rice on to cook.
  • Brush your pitta breads with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac (if you're using) and place in the toaster. Don't turn it on yet.
  • Melt the butter in a wok and add the spring onions, carrots, lemongrass, garlic and ginger. Stir over a medium heat for one minute.
  • Add the green beans, turmeric and coriander and stir until the vegetables are coated in the spices.
  • Add the coconut milk and the stock.
  • Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the prawns and cook for 3 minutes or until they have turned pink.
  • Stir in the beansprouts and fresh coriander and season with nam pla (or salt).
  • Turn off the heat, toast your pitta breads and serve this vibrant yellow prawn sauce over the rice and with the pitta bread.
It's a dish that can't fail to make you happy.


  1. Mandy Cremin could make you tablecloths if you are stuck for them. The fabric can be bought online and she can simply hem them for you. normally I am 100% cotton girl, but since you will be washing constantly, 50-50% cotton poly is better as no ironing. Michael Guiney's has tablecloths--also you can cut down sheets. Guiney's has the best selection of oilcloth by the metre if you choose to go down that route....good luck!

  2. Thanks, Sharon. I was going to go down the cloth route as I much prefer them but I've been convinced that it's impractical. I simply won't have time to wash, dry and iron them every day (or even every second day). Not to mention the extra expense involved in that. So, reluctantly, I've had to admit that oilcloth is best. I'll check Guiney's out during the week. I need to sort this soon!