Finally – and let’s agree it’s taken somewhat of a crisis to boot this into action – I’m getting time to share our renovation recipes. I bought the .co.uk for this five years ago, I kid you not, and had every intention of merrily blogging recipes all the way through our build. But we were too busy building. So the idea has just floated around at the back of my mind whilst meals were made and mid-chaos-cooking skillz were honed. Mr Moregeous would remind me of it every so often, usually with a mouthful of whatever was served up, and I’d kick myself with steel toe capped boots for being so lax. But now, like everyone else, I find myself with a) still no proper kitchen, b) dwindling funds, c) limited food and d) a Government ordered lockdown. Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be using those words in a blog post. In these troubling times we’re all finding ways to keep positive, productive and engaged. Meal making has always been my go to. At the end of a long, physical working day I’ll still take half an hour to chill, chop and cook, even if completely exhausted. It’s how I, personally, wind down and zone out. And we all need a bit of that right now.
Pulling together the Lockdown Lunchtime Lives made me think. Yes, of course, we’ll stick to what we do, i.e. interiors, salvage, DIY and all the usual shizzle to pass on all our advice and tips whilst everyone’s at home with all the gear and no idea. But what about maybe including some of the easy, affordable and tasty recipes which fed us and kept us healthy through our reno. There’ll be plenty of people caught up in this madness who are in the middle of their own renovation or kitchen refurb, with limited access to equipment and utensils, just as we were. And there’s a very strong chance that their renos will take somewhat longer than anticipated due to what’s going on.
Every Friday, my dear readers, will be entirely dedicated to food. We’ll go Live on Instagram Stories with a 1pm cooking sesh which will then be shared to IGTV and YouTube. Should it all goes horribly wrong and I burn the house down, it’ll just be on the Live, obv. The first one is up already and please forgive me as it’s slightly longer than future ones aim to be. I found myself raving about our portable induction hob – a must buy if you’re going to be kitchenless for an extended period – and the microwave rice cooker – another essential for fast, healthy meals which swerve all those Uncle Ben’s (or similar) single use plastic packaging.
Thai Green Curry can sound pretty complex if you’ve never cooked it before, but it really isn’t. For the chilli nervous, remember it can also be as packed with chilli heat or as mild as you like. There are three ways of doing it:
- Complicated : Making your own paste with lime, garlic, chilli, fish sauce, lemon grass, coriander etc. Fab but not a fast mid-reno meal.
- Simple : A ready mixed version like the Tesco & Loyd Grossman ones below. These tend to be a bit thick and glutinous for my taste and it’s miles better to go for….
- The tasty middle ground we’ll talk about here: A mix of Thai green paste and coconut milk
Ingredients for 2 at Moregeous HQ are:
- 3 to 4 boned and skin free chicken thighs. I like thighs for this, they’re more forgiving than breast meat which can dry out. With thighs you can go off and do some more DIY, come back and the meal is still delish. And they freeze better if you’re batch cooking, more juicy when defrosted and reheated. Obv you can replace the chicken with beef strips or prawns or just veg
- 1tbs sunflower oil or similar (not strong olive oil, tastes weird)
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 inch peeled & grated ginger
- 1 finely chopped small red chilli, dependent on how strong your green chilli paste is. If you get an Anglicised version from an English supermarket and you like things hot, you might want to add extra chilli. Authentic pastes are pretty kicky anyway.
- 50g authentic green Thai curry paste, or what the packing recommends for…
- 400ml / 1 tin of coconut milk. In the madness of the Coronavirus times, all the tins of coconut milk might be gone, but just keep some solid coconut paste in the freezer (split into slices) or even coconut powder to which you just add water. Great store cupboard items.
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- Half a red or yellow pepper (preferable but not essential) thinly sliced
- Baby sweetcorn & mange tout (classic green curry additions)
- Mixed oriental mushrooms are preferable – tinned straw mushrooms or fresh if your supermarket has them – but plain old white sliced if that’s what you have in the fridge.
- Spring onion / coriander for flavour and garnish but not essential.
I think you’ll be getting the gist right about now that renovation cooking is not an exact science. Sometimes you’ll have had time to go the shops and sometimes you won’t. Some days you’ll have a spare pepper, some days mushrooms, some days beansprouts. You can throw in some broccoli, or asparagus, if you’ve a few spears going spare. No veg in at all, and need an emergency meal? Just use the chicken, the paste and the coconut milk – super basic, but still a cheaper and better option than an expensive takeaway or plastic wrapped ready meal.
The paste is similar in strength regardless of what make you buy. If you put too much in and the end result is too spicy when you test it at the end of the cooking process, tame it down by adding more coconut milk and then spot out the excess sauce & freeze for a future meal. The paste can be frozen too. Some people use ice cube trays and fill each cube with paste then freeze this, a great idea. 50g would be about two cubes. The pack I bought below was £2 and does 8 meals, as you can see from my markings on the plastic wrapper, all this squishes up into the small pot on the right.
As per the video (did you watch already??), fry the garlic, chilli and ginger for a minute or so on a medium heat in a large non-stick pack / induction wok. Add the whole chicken thighs and fry till 80% cooked (still slightly pink when you cut them). Turn off the heat, pop the thighs on a clean plate and cut them into small fork sized pieces. I use decent scissors for this, easier than a knife.
Leaving the chicken to one side on the plate, turn the heat back on the same pan, maybe adding a little more oil, and stir fry the onions and peppers for a minute. Then add the paste, stir thoroughly and cook through for another minute.
It smells a bit fishy (that’s the Thai fish sauce in the mix, don’t panic) and if it makes you cough, that’s the chilli. I always cough at this point. Not good on a video in today’s climate.
Then add back the chicken & any juices on the plate. Give it all a good stir to coat all the ingredients.
Pour in the full 400ml tin of coconut milk, or the equivalent made up from creamed or powdered coconut. Mix well so all the paste dissolves into the milk and the white milk goes pale green. If you’ve never cooked it before, it’s at this point you think “ahhh that’s why they call it green Thai curry” 😉
Add the veg which need to stay crunchy, eg mange tout, sliced baby corn, beansprouts, asparagus, and allow the whole pan to bubble gently on a low heat for a few minutes. Just until the veg has just the perfect crunch, or is just how you like it. And check the small chicken pieces are cooked through.
Thats seriously it. Couldn’t be easier. Takes less than 20 minutes. Serve with Thai sticky or basmati rice, garnished (if you have it) with coriander or chopped spring onions.
Right that’s the first of our Renovation Recipes, I hope it’s useful 🙂
I might not need gin next to me next Friday as I won’t be so nervous. And I promise the video won’t be as long! If you’re renovating and have an easy and fantastic go-to recipe, I’d love to hear about it. And maybe cook it eh?
Thanks for stopping by, stay safe, keep positive,