Confession time: Working from home, I have the odd day where I just don’t feel like getting out of my pyjamas at all. There, now you know about my pyjama-day. On these days I stay in my pyjamas and generally just take it easy.
You won’t find me feeling guilty about it at all. I am a firm believer in the fact that we all need some me-time. Doing these good old pyjama-days makes me feel nurtured and just a bit spoiled. And what’s wrong with spoiling yourself a bit. Life is such a rush and if you’re in the creative business, you tend to get a bit flat and creatively stumped. Trying to then force an idea or concept out of your head will just leave you more frustrated. On these days you’ll also generally find me totally uncommunicative – both verbally and electronically. It’s nothing personal, it’s part of the switch-off.
Such a pyjama-day kicks off with a nice lie-in in the morning. In other words, get some coffee and rusks, get back into bed, pull up the blankets, grab the latest favourite book and switch off. Naturally this means that Max and Lola the dachsies are in seventh heaven on such a day. They absolutely love being under the covers and if mom’s there with them, even better!
I think it is important to give oneself these ‘gentle times’. I find these days give my battery a bit of a re-charge and help to clear the head. By evening, I’m already tapping away at the computer or bonding with my creative scribble book. My mind already on the next challenge and rearing to go.
Naturally, together with such a pyjama-day I must have comfort food – something that’s still nice and light though. After all serious physical activity is not at all included on these days. That’s when my favourite Asian chicken and broth comes in. It’s something that can slowly simmer away on its own. Just a question of putting all the ingredients together and it does its own thing. By poaching the chicken, the meat is nice and soft and moist. And the broth that’s created has a beautiful lemon, aniseed fragrance. All flavours that immediately make me feel rejuvenated and nurtured.
3 cm Ginger (cleaned & grated)
2 Garlic cloves crushed
6 Chicken breasts/8 Thighs
2 Slices of large lemon
2 Star anise
2 Bay leaves
½ Lemon grass stalk (finely chopped)
1 Small chilli (deseeded & finely chopped)
1 Litre water (it must cover the chicken)
Toppings for the dish
¼ of Cucumber (julienned)
2 Thinly sliced shallots – deep fried & crispy
2 Chillies (seeds removed & finely sliced)
Noodles for serving
4 Squares of long life Egg noodles (+ 270g)
3/4 Tbsp (45/60ml) Soya sauce
Place all the poaching ingredients: ginger, garlic, chicken, lemon slices, star anise, bay leaf, lemon grass, chilli and water in a pot. Tip: you can place the star anise and bay leaf in a little tea strainer, let it hang in the liquid and attach it to lip of the pot – it just makes it easier to remove these spices when you’re done.
The water must cover the chicken, if not add a bit more water.
Slowly bring this to the boil and then let it simmer to poach for at least 1 hour. The longer you let it poach, the more flavour you get into your broth.
Now prepare the vegetables to top off the dish with. To do the shallots – you can cut them in rings, separate the rings, mix these through with a bit of cake flour and then deep fry them in some oil. The result will be a very nice crispy shallot. This adds a nice little crunch to the dish. If you can’t find shallots, you can use a small onion. Alternatively, you do find some nice crispy onion sprinkles in some salad isles. You can also buy this ready-made ‘crunch’.
Just place these vegetables or condiments in bowls, so your guests can dress their own finished dish.
Cook your noodles, according to the pack instructions. If using the long life egg noodles, I prefer to just leave it lying in a bowl with boiled water until they soften sufficiently. Just separating them properly.
Remove the star anise, bay leaf and the lemon slices from the broth. Now shred your chicken from the bone and place the meat back into the broth. Discard the chicken bones.
Now’s the time where you flavour the broth. Add the soya sauce so you can get more salt into the dish. You can also add some salt if you wanted to.
To serve, dish some noodles in a bowl, top it with the shredded chicken and ladle in some of the fragrant broth. Serve and everyone can just top it off with their choice of toppings.
NOTE: If you want a bit more of a healthier version, you can use skinless, deboned chicken breast.