This popular South-East Asian noodle soup is very versatile; you can make it using chicken, tofu, mixed seafood or a combination of all three. Laksa paste is sold in jars in specialist grocery stores, larger supermarkets and online — it can vary a little in heat, so adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
150 g packet rice vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 tablespoons ready-made laksa paste
3 cups (750 ml) salt-reduced chicken stock
400 ml can coconut milk
500 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1?2 teaspoon salt
1 heaped cup (100 g) bean sprouts, tails trimmed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Vietnamese mint or regular mint
2?3 cup (20 g) fresh coriander leaves
1 small red chilli, seeded and sliced
lime wedges, to serve
Place noodles in a heatproof bowl and pour enough boiling water over to cover.
Leave to soak for 5 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, in a wok or large heavy-based saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add laksa paste and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in stock and bring to a boil.
Add coconut milk and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add chicken and simmer for 5 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through. Add the salt.
Drain noodles and divide among serving bowls.
Top each with bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint and coriander.
Ladle soup over the noodles, dividing chicken evenly.
Garnish with chilli and serve immediately, with lime wedges.
To make your own laksa paste, chop 1 red onion, 4 cloves garlic, 3 red birdseye chillies, 1 bunch (150 g) washed coriander roots and stems, 2 lemongrass stems (white part only) and a 2 1/2 cm piece of peeled fresh ginger or galangal.
Place in a food processor with 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon prawn or anchovy paste, 5 chopped macadamia nuts and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Vietnamese mint or regular mint.
Blend to a smooth paste, adding some mild vegetable oil if needed to loosen the mixture.
Transfer any unused paste to a clean airtight container, cover with a thin layer of mild vegetable oil and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
The hollows in hard–boiled egg halves make perfect containers for a tasty filling – here carrot and chive – and the eggs look attractive served on a bed of ribbon vegetables and lamb's lettuce. All you need is some bread to make a satisfying lunch.
Couscous is extremely versatile and can be used for both savoury dishes and for sweet ones, such as this quickly made, delicious hot cereal. The couscous is mixed with dried fruit and soaked briefly in hot milk, then topped with fresh fruit, to create something a little different to start the day.
For this savoury version of a classic French batter pudding, sweet cherry tomatoes are baked in a light, fluffy batter flavoured with grated pecorino cheese. Make individual clafoutis, or one large one, and serve for a simple lunch or dinner with bread or boiled new potatoes and green beans.
For these delectable chilli–flavoured omelettes, the eggs are whisked with cornflour to give them a slightly firmer texture, suitable for folding round a colourful and tasty filling of stir–fried vegetables and rice noodles.