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5 Ways to Use Thai Curry Paste (without making a curry)

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Thai Burgers with Asian Slaw - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Food Bloggers

You know me, I’m a huge fan of Thai Food; it’s fresh, it’s fiery and full of flavour. And, it’s so quick and easy to cook – it’s been my mid and end of week hero dish for quite a while now (done in twenty minutes and great for using up whatever veg you’ve got bashing around at the back of the fridge at the end of the week!). While Thai Yellow Curry will forever be my absolute go to and favourite when I’m craving Thai Food, I’m always on the look out for ways of mixing things up and using those flavours in a different way. Because a pack of Thai Curry Paste doesn’t just have to be for making curry. Whether it’s red, green or yellow, that little pack tucked away at the back of your cupboard behind the dried pasta and tin of chopped tomatoes can be used in so many different ways to inject heat and flavour into a dish – any dish.

Thai Potato Rosti Cakes

Potato Rosti, Hash Browns… whatever you call them and however you eat them – a tablespoon of any curry paste stirred into the soft, shredded potato and onion mix before you go ahead an get frying is DY-NA-MITE. Add a couple of poached eggs and you’ll be in for an extra special, extra spicy Sunday brunch.

Liven up Vegetable Soups

I’ve always been a fan of boring vegetable soups to be honest. For me, it doesn’t have to be anything special – and after a wet walk with the dog there’s nothing like a bowl of steaming hot soup with a tonne of chunky veg floating in it in my book. My husband however, HATES it. He finds the flavours bland, the soggy veg like baby food and whenever there’s soup on the menu he’ll roll his eyes and whinge his trademarked phrase, “Soup’s not food, it’s sustenance!!!” Ugh. But mix in a spoonful of curry paste and suddenly it’s like he’s staring into a whole new bowl.

Fiery Fish Pie

I’m a recent convert to Fish Pie – it’s just the perfect Autumn comfort dish and I recently posted my go-to recipe: Fish and Lager Pie. But why not mix it up and inject a little Thai spice into the mix? Super easy, just swap out the double cream for coconut milk and spoon in as little or as much curry paste as you fancy!

Thai Omelette

Thai curry paste and eggs go together like a dream, so the next time you’re feeling too knackered to cook and utter the words, “Do you just fancy an omelette tonight?”, why not slip a little curry paste into the mix and take that lazy omelette to a whole new level?

Marinade for Meat

And finally, what better way to liven up the meat on your menu than to inject it with all the flavour packed into just a couple of spoonfuls of curry paste. There’s no end to what you make after letting your meat marinade overnight in the stuff – from kebabs to the fiery Thai-style Burgers topped with Asian Slaw that I whipped up over the weekend using a few ingredients sent to me by Discover Delicious. (Scroll down for the recipe…)

If you’ve never heard of Discover Delicious before then think of them as your one stop online shop for fantastic Welsh food and drink. They’ve got a fully stocked food hall full of groceries made by locally by Welsh Independents – often family run – from cheese and crackers to gin. They also offer gifts and experiences – so if you’re on the hunt for some early Christmas presents, then look no further. From the package of goodies they sent me (including aaaall the pregnancy snacks I’m going to need to get me through the next couple of weeks – including Welsh Cakes and Toffee Waffles, my faves!) I immediately fished out the Thai Yellow Curry Paste and Hot Thai Style Chutney.

Thai Style Burgers with Asian Slaw - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Food Bloggers - Discover Delicious Wales

Thai Burgers with Asian Slaw

makes 2
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 65g Thai Curry Paste (I used Yellow Curry Paste)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Milk (use the fattiest, creamiest bit from the can)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 beetroot
  • a couple of purple cabbage leaves
  • Chinese Leaf
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 Brioche Buns
  • (Optional) Calon Lan’s Hot Thai Style Chutney to serve
5 Ways to Use Thai Curry Paste - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Lifestyle Bloggers

Method
  1. First things first, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and then place them in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together your marinade: that’s the Thai Curry Paste, Olive Oil and Coconut Milk. Combine the two, ensuring both chicken breasts are fully coated and submerged. Leave to marinade for at least an hour, but overnight would be even better.
  2. When you’re ready to cook, whip up your Asian Slaw. Finely shred the carrot, beetroot, cabbage and Chinese leaf into a bowl. In a clean bowl, mix together the dressing: that’s the sesame oil, ginger paste, garlic paste and maple syrup. Combine the two, ensuring the veg is all coated. Set aside.
  3. Shallow fry your marinaded chicken breasts on a medium heat for around 20 minutes, turning over half way.
  4. All that’s left is to assemble! Lightly toast the brioche buns, then stack with the cooked chicken breasts, Asian Slaw and freshly chopped coriander, then serve. I’d totally recommend adding a blob of Calon Lan’s immense and fiery Chutney – it really spiced the burgers up!

Have a great week! 💛

*This post contains gifted items. To find out more about what that means, click here.

Apple and Cinnamon Kanelbullar

Swedish Sticky Buns stuffed with Cinnamon-spiced Apple – yum!
Apple and Cinnamon Kanelbullar - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Food Bloggers

I feel like I’ve gone list-crazy the past few weeks. I’m either permanently attached to my notebook, or the list app on my phone (I’m OBSESSED with it). And it’s not because I’m one of those super organised “I don’t know how she does it” kind of girls – ha ha, I wish! Nope. It’s because I suddenly don’t seem to be in possession of a brain anymore. It’s gone. The majority of my brain cells seem to have gone on strike during working hours, not that it matters because most of the time I’m way too tired to engage those that have stuck around in solidarity. The fact that I’m even stringing full sentences together right now is a miracle; baby brain is a very real thing. I’ve left my keys in the front door too many times to count, jumped my own train of thought between stations, burnt boiled eggs (oh yes, that’s actually possible), forgotten names (I’m usually so good with names!) and left that thing upstairs that I was going to use for the um… something or other, waaay too many times to count. Counting? Forget it. If I didn’t have my list app and notebook to remind me how to function, then I’d be completely useless.

I’m sure there was supposed to be a clever segway into Cinnamon Buns leading on from that, but I’ve lost it. Oh well. 5 weeks to go, and counting.

Thank God I took the time to scribble this recipe down in detail in my notebook is all I’m gon’ say, because it’s a keeper. Cinnamon Buns just happen to be my absolute favourite of the sticky, sweet bun species; I’ve been working on a recipe for the perfect, fluffy enriched dough for a while now and I’ve finally found The One. It makes a cracking batch of traditional cinnamon buns, sure, but add some stewed apple into the mix and plait them into a traditional Swedish Kanelbullar and they’re even better. It just so happens that the apple tree in my back garden has delivered the goods yet again this year – so there’ll be plenty of batches of these babies to come over the next few weeks. Who needs a brain when you’ve got buns, hun?

Apple filled Cinnamon Buns - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Food Bloggers

Apple and Cinnamon Kanelbullar

makes 9
Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 75g butter
  • 400g plain flour
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 200g diced apples (any variety other than cooking will do)
  • 20g caster sugar

To finish:

  • Egg wash (1 small egg and 1 tbsp water)
  • Sugar syrup (35g caster sugar, 4 tbsp water)
Apple and Cinnamon Swedish Cinnamon Buns - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers
Method
  1. Combine the milk and butter in a microwaveable bowl and gently heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar and cardamom and then leave to cool for 1 minute (ideally you want the temperature to drop to between 32˚C and 35˚C). Once cooled, stir in the yeast and then leave for 10 minutes to allow it to activate.
  3. Stir in the flour and salt then knead for at least 10 minutes either by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook until you have a soft and springy dough (it’ll be sticky to begin with, but persevere!). Cover with a cloth, then leave the dough somewhere warm to prove for about an hour.
  4. Whilst the dough is proving, make the filling. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, then gently allow to come together over a low heat. The butter and sugars should melt and combine, and the apples should soften. For a smooth, paste-like filling, feel free to either mash or blitz it in a blender – or leave it if you’re happy with more of a chunky filling. Set aside to cool.
  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and then roll it out into a rectangle that’s about half a centimetre thick. Spread the cooled apple and cinnamon filling right to the corners, then fold one of the long edges into the centre of the rectangle. Fold the opposite long edge into the middle, slightly overlapping the other one. Slice the folded rectangle from long edge to long edge into 9 equal slices. If you’re a fan of traditional cinnamon rolls, then simply roll each slice – or if you want them to look more like the knots above then you’re going to need to flatten out each slice, slice into three strands, plait, and then roll.
  6. Pop the buns into a lightly greased muffin tin, cover with clingfilm and then leave to prove for another hour.
  7. Heat your oven up to 220C, coat the buns in a light egg wash, and then bake for 12 minutes. Whilst still warm, brush with sugar syrup – then leave to cool.
  8. You can just leave them right there, but once they were completely cool I decided to add an extra sticky maple glaze and a few scattered chopped nuts (…does wonders covering up a messy plait!).

Have a lovely week everyone!  💛 💛 💛

Emergency 4am Cookie Dough

avert any serious cookie crisis in 15 minutes flat…
The Cardiff Cwtch - Emergency Cookie Dough - Welsh Bloggers

How the hell I’m suddenly into week 34 of my pregnancy, I have no idea. It only feels like a few weeks ago that I hugged my husband in the car park of our local hospital on a very bright and sunny May afternoon and showed him pictures of the 12 week scan he wasn’t allowed to attend. Now the trees are suddenly shedding their leaves, we’re heading deeper into Autumn (and into another Lockdown – yeesh) and things are starting to feel very, very real. We’ve decorated a nursery, we’ve filled a drawer with baby clothes (and had several arguments over just how many cute polka dot onesies one baby actually needs – if you know the answer to that one, let me know), and – as of last weekend – we’ve reached the end of our Covid-proof Zoom NCT Classes.

Noticing how the weeks seem to be flying by, I’ve started thinking about everything I want to get done before I head into that – ohmygawd, baby could show up any second – end zone, and high up on my list is a heavy dose of batch cooking. Whilst I love cooking, and I’m sure there’ll be the odd day where I’m desperate to get back into the kitchen, I just can’t see it happening for at least the first couple of weeks. So I’ve started sifting through my favourite recipes, pulling out a few that’ll do well in the freezer. But what about deserts? I mean, frozen veggie chilli that’s just as good nuked in the ol’ microwave as it is fresh out of the pot is good, but something sweet to enjoy when the baby’s sleeping and you get to steal back a moment for yourself is even better, right?

The Cardiff Cwtch - Emergency Cookie Dough - Welsh Food Bloggers

One of the NCT girls had a great idea for any pre-baby batch cooking list, and you bet I’m adding it to mine. A foolproof 4am cookie dough that’ll go from frozen blob to crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle cookie in 15 minutes – perfect for perking up those early morning feeds. I’ve been working on an ultimate cookie dough recipe for a while – one that’s easy and adaptable in terms of fillings – and I’ve finally settled on this one, which just so happens to work best when the dough’s frozen. Now I just need to work out how many batches I’m going to need to get me through those sleepless newborn nights…

Emergency 4am Cookie Dough

makes 10
Ingredients
  • 125g softened butter
  • 110g dark muscovado sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 195g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g chocolate chips (or whatever filling you fancy)
The Cardiff Cwtch - Freezable Emergency Cookie Dough - Cardiff Bloggers
Method
  1. Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, then crack in the egg. Stir until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornflour and salt. Pour into the butter, sugar and egg mix, then stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Line a tray with grease-proof paper, then scoop out equal, rounded dollops of cookie dough onto it (I like to use an ice cream scoop). Transfer the dough to the fridge for an hour to firm up, then pop the blobs of cookie dough into a freezer bag to freeze and lie in wait for cookie emergencies.
  4. When you’re ready to cook, set the oven to 200°C (fan), then bake the cookies on a foil-lined baking tray for 15 minutes – or until crispy on the outside and soft and puffy in the middle.
  5. Leave the cookies to cool slightly and settle (resist attempting to move them until they have!), then enjoy!

Have a great week everyone! Let me know what your favourite cookie filling is in the comments – I’m going to need a little inspo ready for batch cooking week! 🍪🍪🍪

Cosy Fish and Lager Pie

WARNING: MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS
Cosy Fish and Lager Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Bloggers - Autumn Pie Recipes

And you should absolutely take that warning seriously because the biggest mistake I made with this pie was to make it on a Wednesday morning just in time for lunch. After our first wet dog walk of Autumn, followed by a very gloomy morning catching up with chores and work, it seemed a pretty good idea to polish that all off with a piping hot fish pie. Oh and it was. It was warm, it was creamy, it was buttery… but it was so comforting that I could have very happily curled up on the sofa under a blanket and slept for the rest of the day after shoving in that final mouthful. It’s not that it was really that filling, it was just an incredibly cosy pie – something that would be absolutely perfect on a gloomy, snoozy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, not on a Wednesday afternoon when you’ve got back to back Zoom calls for the rest of the day.

Packed with everything you’d expect in a traditional fish pie (except the mash topping), this one gets a subtle glow up with the addition of a little fish sauce and lager, giving it a richer and slightly saltier flavour (but strangely, without making it taste too fishy). The sliced leeks and shallots balance by bringing a little sweetness to the creamy sauce, while the golden puff pastry lid adds the flaky, crunchy texture you’ll miss with the traditional mash topping. Do yourself a favour and serve it up with some tender stem broccoli – you’re not going to want to miss out on dunking them into the sauce!

Cozy Fish and Beer Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers - Fall Pies

Cosy Fish and Lager Pie

serves two
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, sliced
  • handful of spinach leaves, sliced and stalked
  • half a leek, sliced
  • handful of parsley, sliced and stalked
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 100ml cold water
  • 150ml pale lager
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 150ml double cream
  • 250g fish pie mix (pick one with plenty of smoked haddock)
  • enough puff pastry to cover your chosen pie dish(es)
  • splash of milk
Cosy Smoked Haddock and Lager Pie -The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Food Bloggers
Method
  1. Set your oven to 180°C (fan)
  2. Add your oil and chopped shallot to a deep frying pan and fry on a medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped leek and spinach and fry together for about 5 minutes.
  3. Next, pour in a tablespoon of good quality fish sauce, 100ml of cold water and 150ml of pale lager. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and pop on the lid – leaving it to simmer while you make the roux.
  4. To make the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat then whisk in the flour until combined. Add the cream, stirring until any lumps are gone. Pour the sauce base into the frying pan and then stir to combine with the other ingredients. Pour in the parsley and fish, then leave to bubble without the lid for about seven minutes while you get on with preparing the puff pastry lid.
  5. Pour the fish pie mix into your chosen pie dish (I used two large ramekins), then seal with your puff pastry lid. Brush with a little milk, then cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with with tender stem broccoli (great for dunking!) or peas. (…Then prepare to fall asleep on the sofa for the rest of the day because – fair warning – this is the cosiest of all the cosy pies!)
Easy Smoked Haddock and Beer Pie -The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Lifestyle Bloggers

Have a lovely week guys!

Pregnancy during a Pandemic: How New and Expectant Parents are being Left Behind

Pubs are back open, #ButNotMaternity
Pregnancy in a Pandemic: How New and Expectant Parents are being Left Behind - #ButNotMaternity - The Cardiff Cwtch

“Nervous?” I ask my husband as he steers our car off the A470 and makes the turn towards Nelson.

He frowns into the rear-view mirror.  “…I’m having some serious concerns about her nose.”

I take a breath and catch my own reflection in the passenger side mirror. I wrinkle my own nose – the nose that’s made me cringe at every side profile photograph ever taken of me since my teens.  “…Yeah. Between yours and mine, she’s screwed.

We’ve driven half an hour to see the tiny, terrible schnoz we’ve joked about for years – ever since Sunny and I first got together and wondered quietly what a much smaller version of the two of us would look like. The drive’s been relatively quick but the journey’s been much, much longer; I definitely didn’t expect to go through two miscarriages along the way, and I definitely didn’t expect the one that stuck to happen in the middle of a global pandemic. Since piddling on that stick back in March – on one of those final days of blissfully ignorant freedom before the whole world locked down – it’s been a strange, frustrating and lonely few months to be pregnant. So far I’ve attended all my NHS scans and check ups alone – from the terrifying 12 week scan that brought back painful memories of last year’s empty, silent screen, to the 20 week anomaly scan, where I fizzled with excitement alone when I found out I was having a girl. Of course Sunny came to every single appointment and scan but he had to wait outside with all the other hopeful soon to be dads in their cars at the curb, nervously shuffling their feet waiting for updates via Whatsapp – good or bad. Now I’m 28 weeks, and the only way Sunny can actually see his baby before she arrives is to fork out for a private scan – a luxury not every couple can afford.

And there are so, so many out there just like us. It’s only now, 6 months after the Covid-19 Pandemic interrupted all our lives that the struggle new parents have been through during this time are being reported in the media, with questions finally being raised at PMQs, and NHS Trusts beginning to consider relaxing the strict rules that were slapped on antenatal and maternity services way back in March. Rules that have forced women to attend important screenings, scans and appointments alone. Rules that have relegated important face to face appointments to phone calls. Rules that have suspended longed for IVF cycles. Rules that have left women to be induced, prepped for caesarians and labouring in hospital all alone – separated from their support network and chosen birthing partner until they reach established labour. Rules that have kept parents away from their newborn babies during those precious first few days – treating partners as the lesser parent. Rules that have seen vital postnatal services and health visits vanish into thin air.

Pregnancy in a Pandemic: How New and Expectant Parents are being Left Behind - #ButNotMaternity - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers

Worse still, it’s because of these rules that some women have been forced to go through the anguish of miscarriages and still births completely on their own. I remember my own miscarriages in vivid detail – the long and painful wait in A&E the first time clutching my belly in one hand and my husband’s in the other, and the weird crack in the ceiling of the scanning room I chose to stare at as I went through a third uncomfortable internal scan to confirm my second. The thought of having to go through all those moments without Sunny by my side holding me together when I was ready to crumble and listening to the important advice and instructions on medicinal management when I simply couldn’t is difficult to imagine, and yet so many women have been forced to do just exactly that over this strange and surreal summer.

Rules are easing, but sadly it’s an inconsistent story across the country as it’s down to individual NHS Trusts to decide how they manage their Covid Restrictions. So, while a new Mum in Bristol might have to labour in full PPE while her partner waits outside in the car, her counterpart over the bridge in Newport may find that she’s actually able to hold her partner’s hand from that very first contraction right through to the last. And that’s all without considering the threat of a second wave taking us straight back to where we started (in fact, not five days after my private scan up in Nelson, Caerphilly became the first county in Wales to go back into Lockdown). It’s utterly baffling that while we’re being encouraged to eat out in pubs and restaurants alongside total strangers, a couple from the same household can’t be together during some of the most terrifying and challenging moments of their life together. When I’m asked in the next few weeks where I’d like to give birth, I’m seriously considering putting “Local Pub” down on my birth plan with a request for an ice cold lager shandy and curry half and half on standby for when I finally pop. At least my husband would actually stand a chance of being there, and I reckon that pint would go down a treat.

In the scanning room up in Nelson, our daughter’s nose finally appears on screen. It’s absolutely massive, but lovely all the same; it’s ours. And even though I know Sunny’s laughing just like I am, I don’t get to see it because of the mask he’s been forced to wear. As moments go, I’ll take it – even though the truth is that I’ve been dying to watch his reaction to seeing his daughter for the first time for months, years even. And while I’ve been really lucky so far compared to most – during a time where people have lost so much – for me and for many other mums to be it’s the loss of those first special moments that are going to stick in my throat, as well as the thought of what other less fortunate parents to be are going through – the loss of an experience shared for better or worse.

Head to ButNotMaternity.org to find out more on how you can help get NHS Trusts to update their rules and allow partners to attend scans, appointments and births, and tweet your own experiences of pregnancy and birth during Covid using #ButNotMaternity. If you’re in Wales, sign the Senedd Petition here.