It’s not easy to find original gifts, so I was over the moon to discover The Spicery when looking for something special for Rob. Their spicebox subscription is absolutely perfect: it plays to his love of trying new cuisines and his ever-growing passion for cooking. It also gave us the perfect excuse to spend a few hours cooking together in the kitchen; this is something we love to do, but often need a reason to find the time! On Day 13 of #100DaysNoTV we had a ‘Date Night in Bali’.
There are various spicebox themes to choose from – for friends, couples, families, adventurous cooks – and I chose the Date Night Subscription. There’s a choice of three, six or twelve months. Each month you receive a spicebox with spices and recipe with full instructions for a three-course meal for two – every time from a different part of the world.
We got a real sense of excitement when each of the boxes arrived. They do give you the chance to review what your next box will be, and change it if you wish, but we loved the element of surprise.
The neatly packed letterbox-sized recipe kit contained the fresh spices – already measured precisely for your meal – a shopping list, equipment list, prep list and detailed method for all three courses.
I’m not going to reproduce the recipe here – and I don’t think the guys at The Spicery would be very happy with me if I did – as this is about our experience as part of #100DaysNoTV. Hint: if you like what you see, they do still have this spicebox on their website (at the time I clicked publish). 😉
First up, the starter: Pork Satay
I’d only ever had chicken with satay sauce and my experience was an overpowering taste of garlic, so I was interested to see how this would pan out. My first mistake quickly became apparent: I hadn’t double-checked we had some peanuts, which we didn’t, so (purists look away now) we used cashews instead. No biggie, right?
Super simple to make the marinade for the pork with the spices, and the most laborious part of the starter was crushing the nuts for the satay sauce. Slice some cucumber, grill the pork skewers and serve with the sauce, carrot & cucumber salad and a lime wedge. A great start and it didn’t suffer for the cashews, which, if anything, made for a milder nutty flavour.
Next up, the main course: Opor Ayam with Jasmine Rice
Opor Ayam is a chicken dish with a coconut milk sauce brought to life by the ground spice blend and whole spices: kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon stick and lemongrass stalks. This version also used new potatoes, which you don’t find in all opor ayam recipes, and we really enjoyed their addition. Just don’t make our mistake and use miniature potatoes, or you’ll spend hours (15 minutes) peeling.
After blending the curry paste and frying slightly, you add chicken, potatoes, coconut milk with the whole spices and it all happily simmers away until tender. By the time we’d eaten our pork satay starter it was pretty much ready.
The carrot & cucumber salad was a nice accompaniment although we possibly used a little too much of the crushed
peanuts cashews (see above!). We moulded the rice in a small bowl to make it look pretty, and with the slight stickiness of Jasmine rice it worked well.
This was my favourite dish to cook, partly because I was a bit giggly after a glass of beer, but mainly because I’m always surprised it’s so easy to make authentic dishes like this in your own home. That’s not a boast: cooking out of my comfort zone is something I tend to shy away from, but this highlighted what’s possible with the right ingredients and prep.
If only there was ‘smell-o-internet’ because you really need to know how good this dish smelled! Accompanied by an ice-cold Asian lager it tasted so, so good.
To finish: Banana Pancakes with Salted Coconut Caramel
I love bananas and I love pancakes, but I’ve never before put the two together. If I had, I probably would have put a chocolate spread with it, but actually, the yin and yang of salted coconut caramel is very hard to beat.
It took a while to get the caramel to the right consistency, but otherwise it was, again, an easy dish to cook. Served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream it was definitely a naughty-but-nice way to end our meal.
We were genuinely stuffed after finishing, but we had big, big smiles. 🙂
We had an absolute blast and it is genuinely one of the best presents I’ve ever bought for Rob. We made, at home, a meal that we’d be happy to eat in a restaurant. (Perhaps not in looks, but certainly in taste!) The Spicery made it so easy for us: we didn’t need to buy spices that we might not use again and with their shopping and prep lists and descriptive method, we weren’t going to go too far wrong.
Our next two date nights will be in Jaipur and Barcelona. Mm mmm. I’m absolutely sure they’re going to be just as yummy. I’ll make sure I have a light lunch!!
Bye for now!