Sunday, 13 April 2008

11.04.08: Red prawn and mango curry with special guest

He whipped up the old family fav with a twist - lemongrass in the rice - and also tried his hand at replicating Zea's pepper-jelly spinach salad which includes blue cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, pecans, sesame seeds and kalamata olives. While he was cooking She was busy baking up some banana bread for dessert. Meanwhile, special guest Samski regaled us with tales both fascinating and true while sipping her Pinot Grigio and taking in the aromas most appreciatively.

SHE SAYS: He outdid himself on this batch: the additional lift from the lemongrass and the creamy texture renewed my delight in this N+D staple, not that I ever exactly took it for granted. The Zea's spinach salad replication was near-perfect. Smoky pecans, crisp spinach, and roasty sesame seeds engaged in a pitched battle of the flavours with the tangy olives, sharp blue cheese, and piquant sun-dried tomatoes.

Now, the banana bread let me down a little: though it still had a toffee scent and good flavour, several snafus made it dry and cake-y: the bananas were not as overripe as they should be; the batter seemed oddly dry, so I added more milk to loosen it, and only after I put the pan in the oven did I realise I'd forgotten the melted butter! I mixed most of it in, but I don't think it distributed well. Still not bad dipped into a cuppa...

HE SAYS: This batch of curry was a winner. I let the sweet potato and butternut squash simmer and soften a while longer this time round, creating a thicker, gravy-like consistency. I also doubled the prawn quantity to make it a little bit more spesh for our guest. The salad in my humble opinion was spot-on as far as authenticity goes, I blended the pepper jelly with a little rice vinegar in the bowl, making good coverage and binding all the flavours togethor. Now will have to move on to simulating their corn grits, which are probably the most delicious vittles known to man.

SAMSKI SAYS: My, oh, my what a treat awaited this work-weary soul last Friday night. His signature red prawn and mango curry was a triumph; the extra cooking time he afforded the sweet potato and butternut squash resulted in a scrumptious sweet/sour creaminess gently perked by new house speciality, lemongrass infused rice. And those extra prawns, plump and juicy every one, did not go unnoticed. In a word: yum - comfort food with gourmet cred.

The accompanying salad - inspired by Zea's original - tantalised and refreshed our taste-buds with diverse ingredients joyously unified by His deft touch. The exquisitely savoury combo of chewy sun-dried tomatoes and zingy blue cheese were tempered by the spinach, Kalamata olives, juicy raisins and satisfying nuttiness of the pecans and sesame seeds, each enlivened but never overwhelmed by the dressing. A cavalcade of texture, colour and flavour - Mardi Gras on a plate.

And so to dessert. Contrary to Her comments, I found the banana bread extremely good and moreish. Served warm, it wasn't too sweet or bubblegummy, and not in the least bit greasy (a common pitfall with most banana breads I've tried in the past). Her creation was springy, moist and - best of all - was just as delicious two days later when this gal dipped enthusiastically into her doggie bag.

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