As we spring into Summer…

This year it seems as if the warmth of Summer is taking forever to come…. although there has been some sunshine during the day, the evenings have been chilly, and certainly not conducive to firing up the BBQ! But our eating habits have started to shift towards more ‘summery’ dishes, which is ironic really as in Asia, we would eat the same food all year round. In somewhere like Malaysia or Singapore where the temperature remains a constant tropical 31-35 degrees throughout the year, you eat whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. It may seem strange to sit outside in these temperatures, wolfing down a steaming bowl of WonTon noodles or Laksa, but it is just the norm and it really doesn’t make you feel any hotter!

Back at home, I have been cooking what I consider to be my ‘in-between’ season meals. These generally consist of a warm meat or fish dish, accompanied by some sort of salad. For example, we had a few friends (and 4 hungry teens) over and I made Pulled Pork with homemade flatbreads – thanks to the new and under-used Uuni Pizza Oven. My friend made a delicious Fennel & Apple Slaw too which went down a treat.

‘Slaw’ is my go-to salad accompaniment as it can be comprised of, and dressed in so many different ways…and is SO easy! I came back from a 3 day business trip this week, which was full on and pretty exhausting. I also was craving ‘clean’ flavours – as much as I love a German Schnitzel with potatoes and green sauce, its not for every day! I was inspired by a Japanese teriyaki steak I’d eaten somewhere so based on that, I did a simple Teriyaki beef stirfry with brown rice and an Asian Slaw with lime & peanut dressing. Simple clean flavours, and a whole load of crunchy vegetables.  It was also a hit with my hungry teens who generally have a fabulous appetite and will eat most things put in front of them. I used to avoid peppers for the one who didn’t like peppers, and coriander for the other one, but now I put them in and if they don’t like it, they can pick it up. I feel that there comes to a point when they need to eat food as it should be made – could this be the ‘food purist’ coming out in me?! Although I am still to see the eldest eat a raw tomato……

*Apologies there are no photos of the finished dishes, but they were eaten before I got a chance to photograph them! #instaproblems

Asian Slaw with Peanut Dressing

1/2 head Chinese Cabbage
1 Red Pepper
4 Spring onions
2 small Carrots
2 stalks of Celery
1/3rd Cucumber

Dressing
1 Tbs Honey
2 Tbs Crunchy peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
4 Tbs Light olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 mild chilli – deseeded and chopped finely
Salt to taste

Cut all the vegetables so that they are a similar width and length. Wash and drain well.

Put the honey, peanut butter and olive oil into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Mix well until combined. Then add the lime juice, chilli and salt to taste. Put aside until ready to serve.

Just before serving, put the vegetables into the bowl with the dressing and combine. They should be lightly coated.

Teriyaki Beef Stirfry

500g Beef fillet – cut into strips
1 onion – sliced thinly
6 spring onions – sliced into 2cm pieces
2 Tbs Sunflower oil

Marinade
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 Tbs Brown sugar
2 Tbs Oyster Sauce
2 Tbs Dark Soy
2 Tbs Rice wine (or sherry or mirin)
1 Tbs sunflower oil

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and add the beef. Leave for at least 20 minutes for the flavours to soak in.

Put the oil into a hot wok and add the onions and spring onions. Stir fry on high heat until just soft and then add in the beef strips. Stir fry quickly until the meat is sealed and beginning to brown. This should take no more than 8-10 minutes to cook.

*I used fillet of beef as I wanted to be able to cook this quickly with a lean cut of meat. It soaks up the marinade beautifully and providing it isn’t overcooked it stays juice and very tender.

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