Monday, December 18, 2006

Menu for Hope

I was just trying to think of a good title to sum up this post, and decided that, well, the title that's already been given me is pretty damn good already - there's the food bit and the giving bit (well, kind of). I just want to expand on the cool bit... It is very cool.

So... this is the third year of Menu for Hope, though only the first year I've been aware of it. Pim, of the legendary Chez Pim, has once again brought together an extravaganza of food-blogger-powered giving and foodliness to raise donations for a good cause linked to a subject close to all our hearts.

The idea is so perfect it almost hurts. Like all the best ideas, it's beautifully simple. And symbiotic. A load of lovely people give some lovely food prizes, a load of other people give money in return for chances to win the particular prizes they like the look of and then all the monies raised go to the UN Food Programme . Given our preoccupation with food, and the time of year there doesn't seem a more appropriate cause than those who will be at the very opposite end of the scale from our seasonal greed and gluttony.
Oh, and the prizes are GOOD... I have my eye on a voucher for the tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and half a kilo of Cambodian peppercorns.
So... GO!, as below:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from the Menu for Hope.
2. Go to the donation site at and make a donation.

3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code—for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 for EU02. (Please use the double-digits, not EU1, but EU01.)

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so the corporate match can be claimed.

5. Please allow your email address to be seen so that you can be contacted in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on January 15 for the results of the raffle.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hot Sour Good

Obviously there were good intentions. There always are. Home by 10, up early, that kind of thing. And, as is often the way with good intentions, their blithe little voices were soon drowned out by louder, bolshier characters - temptation, jollity, the first glass of wine...

I did have a good excuse for overindulgence though, having just finished the monster exams which brought an end to my recent intensive stint at college. Still, that didn't do anything to lessen the equally monster hangover which took hold of me the following day.

By about mid-afternoon I started to fantasise about soup. In my experience it's a surefire ameliorator when plagued with a hangover. A little while later, the thought of chillies slipped into my soupine daydreams. Guaranteed to clear out a foggy head, and packed full of vitamin C.

As if that wasn't enough, the idea was cemented when I started googling for hot soup recipes and came across this article . Hot and sour soup it was...

This is my take on hot and sour prawn and scallop soup then. It's fantastically easy and it did the job to perfection. It just tastes like goodness. And the chilli-effect (watering eyes, streaming nose - the birdseyes were stronger than I anticipated) you can imagine (if you so desire) is tantamount to purging all those excesses of yesterday. The broth is deliciously spicy and flavoursome and comforting. Scallops, pearly and smooth, are - without wanting to be hyperbolic - heavenly, and meaty prawns, crunchy sugarsnap peas and mushrooms add enough interest for it to be like a whole meal in a bowl.

Scallop and Prawn Hot and Sour Soup

(serves from 2 very hungry people to 4 polite people)

6 scallops (no roe)
8 raw king prawns
150g sugarsnap peas
150g chestnut mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/2 red chilli
2 to 3 green birdseye chillies
2 sticks lemongrass
Juice of 2 limes
tsp Thai fish sauce
about 600g good chicken stock (sorry, I don't know the liquid measurement as I bought it in pots that measured in grams, not litres)
3 spring onions - finely sliced
Handful of mint - sliced

  • Chop and crush together the garlic and red chilli

  • Put in a pot with the chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, sliced birdseye chillies and mushrooms

  • Bring to boil and simmer until mushrooms are cooked (add more boiling water as necessary according to your desired liquid:solids ratio

  • Add peas, scallops and prawns and cook for just a minute or two until the prawns have gone pink and the scallops are cooked through

  • Serve topped with a handful of chopped spring onions and mint