A Touch of Spice in Spring


She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.” 

-A.A Milne

Hello ample darlings! What a wonderful start to spring we’ve had so far. All these sunny starts and tepid to pleasant temperatures warrant a celebration, a culinary celebration that is! Prepare for this weeks’ double helping of Thai cuisine inspired from an ex-professional chef and Good Food Guide critic’s cookery class and some ideas on how to celebrate pancake day in health and style! Fortunately for us all, not only has this week permitted me ample time in the kitchen (see what I did there?), but I was lucky enough to enjoy the wonderful company of Miss Grace Jenkins in my kitchen which can only mean one thing….some excellent photos! Let the spicy, spring games commence!

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Chef Margaret

Sometime ago, a friend of mine put me in contact with the food critic mentioned above and after a few emails, chef Margaret invited me to help her out in one of her cookery classes. With a professional kitchen installed in her home not far from Richmond Park’s Ham Gate, Margaret has taught cookery lessons to all ages and levels for the past three years. She cooks everything from French patisserie to Iranian cuisine and is the absolute star of the show. The class that I attended was in fact specifically tailored for a client’s wishes, which was Asian style cooking class. Sat round a cooking ‘island’ with five mothers from the local area we spent just over four hours swapping culinary techniques, drinking white wine and eating the food prepared by both Margaret and ourselves. It is from this class that I would like to share two brilliant tried and tested recipes straight from a professional kitchen! You lucky buggers!

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The first dish is an absolute classic, chicken satay. However, this has to be the best I’ve EVER tried and I mean it. The recipe may be a little longer than your average satay recipe but trust me, it’s worth it. This includes not just peanuts but cashews too, in the words of Hal, this is delish.

Chicken Satay


1tbsp coriander seeds

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped

2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

1tbsp vegetable oil

1tbsp kecap manis

1tsp soy sauce

Peanut and cashew dipping sauce:

2 bird’s eye chillies, seeded and finely chopped

5 shallots, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ shrimp paste

1tbsp vegetable oil

150ml coconut milk

1tbsp cashew nut butter

2tbsp sugar

100g unsalted peanuts, roasted and whizzed

50g roasted cashews and whizzed

2tsp kecap manis

Juice of 1 lime

First make the marinade. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, and then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and pound to a rough paste along with a generous grinding of black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, kecap manis and soy sauce.

Cut the chicken into long strips about 3cm wide and stir into the marinade, mixing well. Cover, refrigerate and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes if you’ve got it, and up to 12 hours. Soak skewers in cold water until ready to use.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the chillies, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan, and then fry the paste until it smells cooked. Add the coconut milk and palm sugar and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the peanuts and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the kecap manis and lime juice, add a little water or coconut milk if it’s too thick, then taste to check the balance of flavours; add more lime juice, sugar or soy sauce if you think it’s lacking. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thread the strips of meat onto the skewers. Cook the skewers on a barbecue or a griddle pan over a medium-high heat, for about 20 minutes until cooked through, turning regularly. You can turn the heat down to medium on the griddle after all are well charred. Don’t worry about black bits, they add flavour.

 The next delectable dish all the way from Thailand is a gorgeous Kung Po Prawn curry. Honestly, this is a winner of meal. You would be foolish not to make this! Get yourself down to your local Thai Supermarket or even Waitrose (they do everything) and stock up on supplies such as peanut oil, kaffir leaves and different types of soy.

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Kung Po Prawns

 200g raw king prawns

3tbsp roasted peanuts

5-10 dried red chillies

3tbsp peanut oil

5 slices peeled fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

100g water chestnuts, sliced


1tbsp corn flour

2 tsp soy sauce

Glug of Shaoxing wine

1tsp peanut oil

1 egg white, broken up with a fork (this “velvets” your prawns meaning it makes them lovely and smooth)


2tbsp light soy sauce

1tsp dark soy sauce

1tsp sugar

A drop or two of black vinegar

2tbsp water

1tsp corn flour

Cut the prawns along their backs to butterfly them. Mix the marinade ingredients, add the prawns and set aside for 30 mins. Meanwhile mix the sauce ingredients together.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok with a splash of cooking oil and stir-fry the prawns till they just begin to go pink, but don’t cook them all the way through. Scoop them into their bowl again.

Add another splash of oil. Heat till it smokes. Add in the ginger and garlic slices and do a quick stir fry before adding in the dried red chillies. Stir fry until aromatic and they smell spicy, them put the prawns back in.

Stir through before adding in the roasted peanuts and continue to stir a few times, until the nuts start to colour.

Add the sauce and stir continuously until it looks like a dish. Add the spring onion and water chestnuts stir round and serve.


Now, seeing as it’s pancake day, I feel that I must contribute a few ideas your way! I recommend Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s classic French crêpe recipe if you’re a thin pancake kinda’ gal/guy. I found this recipe on the channel four website. A word of caution, make sure you have hot oil in your pan before you pour in the batter otherwise the pancake won’t work at all!

Flour weighing

Good fillings include;


  • Lemon juice, sugar and fresh blueberries
  • Nutella and strawberries
  • Double cream, dulche de leche and sliced bananas


finished pancake


  • Emmental and ham
  • Creamy mushrooms and spinach
  • Chorizo and chedder cheese


If you like a more American style pancake hit up Jamie Oliver. Nothing beats these fluffy clouds of yum. Yes, I did just say something utterly ridiculous.

Add to the batter:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh corn
  • Fruit purée
  • Chocolate drops


Add to serve:

  • Maple syrup and bacon
  • Yoghurt, fruit and honey
  • Chocolate or toffee sauce and ice cream

photo (9)

Blueberry pancakes served with bananas, raspberries, natural yoghurt, bacon and maple syrup.


Until next week ample folk! I have some wonderful stories and of course, some fantastic recipes from my time spent at an Organic Butchers.

Love and pancakes to all!

E. Wells