Monday, 18 February 2013

287: Far East Food-a-logue

As irregular readers of this very irregular blog will know, I love a holiday. I have just returned from a cruise from Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Wasn't bad if you like luxury, interesting sights and sunshine.

But what dear readers, I'm sure you're all keen to know is - what did I stuff my face with en-route? Some of the delights, I managed to photograph, so here goes.

In Pennag there's a food market which instantly makes you feel like Rick Stein. It's an open market and down each side there's stalls all of which served different dishes. By most people's standards I'm a pretty adventurous eater, but there were a few things a little too out there for me, fish head soup and chicken feet with mystery accompanyments.
I settled myself for some noodles, which were simply marked as being 'special'. They were pretty nice for a pound but special might be over-egging it a bit. Speaking of which, everywhere out there seemed to go along with my own view that a fried egg improves most things.
We had a trip to the Batu caves just outside Kuala Lumpur. Which in the best possible way was quite an assault on the eyes. Here's the sweeties in the market. But everything else was beauttifully bright too. There had seem a festival at the weekend which involved giving milk as an offering, so the whole place was a bit whiffy. 
On to Thailand, I had more noodles, but I was most impressed with the ice-delivery man, the observant will also note that he's got a fag on. An extra touch of class that, I thought.
The market stalls were pretty interesting. Plenty of them sell Durian fruits. Which are so stinky that apparently some hotels charge an excess if you take one to your room. Apparently they taste nice, but it appears quite a risk. But these things looked much nicer, although I'm not sure what half of them are.
In Thailand the street bbq wagons are pretty good. It's 50p a stick, unless you go for a chicken leg which are a pound. There's options of beef, pork, chicken, chicken wing, chicken leg for flash  harrys and then at the back chicken heart, lung and livers. Nice!
In Singapore I had some Hor Fun noodles, which from the vast description appear to be legendary. Being an ingrate I couldn't understand a word of it. But I did get to understand they were beef and once again came with a fried egg on top. Another win, although Edwina Curry would've had a hear attack seeing the egg: it was the egg equivalent of a blue steak.
Last of all, here's a Singapore Sling - which was the only time I felt ripped off all trip. But you've just got to have one while you're there.


Apologies for the poor layout of this, somehow I seem to be struggling to get the pics to go where I want them to.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

286: Baked Pork with Mustard and Dill

I've got it in my head that I once cooked sometihng very similar to this from Bridget Jones's Comfort Food book. However, I can't find it in my list of posts and I didn't refer to any recipe when putting it together.... so it's kind of approaching my own recipe. I seem to remember it being rather a faff first time out.

As every on a sunday I wanted something hearty, tasty and with a good prospect of being just as good served as leftovers on the Monday evening.

Ingredients, enough for 4 *cough* healthly sized portions:
  • 1 packet of 8 pork chop steaks.
  • 1 big onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 big handful dill
  • 3 or 4 medium carrots
  • About a dozen Maris Piper potatoes
  • Mustard powder
  • ~2 pints chicken stock (although I guess pork stock would've been better)
  • 1 tea spoon cornflour
  • As ever all my recipes start with chopping (small) and slow frying the onion adding the chopped garlic towards the end
  • While this was frying I chopped the carrots, parsnip and half the potatoes into 3/4" bite sized chunks
  • Once done, plonk all these into a big casserole dish
  • There's little less appealing than pasty pork. Well apart from Coronation Chicken. So, into a hot pan with the pork steaks until they've got a little colour; trying to stand them on their ends to ensure the fat gets nicely coloured too
  • Into the casserole with them too
  • Make some stock and put some mustard powder in it. Cover all the lumps. Stir, put the lid on and into a low ~150c oven for a couple of hours
  • Slice the rest of the potatoes thinly
  • Have yourself a minute; there's nothing to do for a while
  • Once the vegetables have softened a bit in the stock. Mix the cornflour, with some more mustard (to taste) and some of the liquid from the pot. Add the dill. And then stir in
  • Arrange the thinly sliced potatoes on the top
  • Back into a hotter ~200c oven, until the potatoes are golden
And here you go:
Crispy spuds on top. Rich sauce underneath. Just the thing for a cold winter's night.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

285: Goose Breast in tomato and chick peas

Time seems very short for blogging and cooking these days. I have managed to do a bit of cooking, I'll shall try to catch up a little.

My Mum knows a man with a shooter. Which makes her sound rather more well 'connected' than she is, but did explain the slightly random phone call of "Do you want a couple of goose breasts?". Well, never one to look a gift horse or a gift goose breast in mouth, I of course accepted. Turning to my normal mechanism of google for a recipe, I found it sadly lacking; stumbling across such weirdness as Bear chilli. So, I resorted to trying to think about this for myself. Scary biscuits.

The only guide I'd had was from my Mum who said to cook it slow, so I fell back onto my trusted method of red wine and tomatoes as a base for anything.

  • 2 Goose breasts (each a good sized portion of meat for one)
  • ~12 very small onions (mine were small onions which hadn't grown very well. Obv. if you were buying - Shallots)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 handful sage leaves
  • 2 medium carrots chopped small (I just had them in, so why not?)
  • 250ml red wine
  • 20-30 blueberries (game and berries supposed to be a good combo right?)

  • Sealed the goose breasts in a hot pan and transfer to large casserole dish
  • Peel the onions, but leave whole and brown in pan
  • Add the Garlic, trying not to burn it.
  • Drain the chick peas add everything to casserole
  • Cover and bob in the oven @150c. I cooked for 5 hours
And here it comes, *drum roll* I served with a jacket spud. Which was rather unimaginative of me I think.

All ths liquids had slowly reduced down to a thick sauce. The goose breast, was lovely and soft. I couldn't notice the berries, they'd melted into the ether of the sauce; maybe more were needed.

Not sure if/when I'll ever have a goose breat again; but I'd more than happily repeat this one; indeed these quantities did enough for two portions and I'm very much looking forward to the second.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

284: Chocolate, Rapsberry and Marshmellow Brownies

Sound nice, don't they?

I'm afraid it's another tale of cake based woe. Let me take you back to last saturday. I may have mentioned that I like to do the Great North Run, Sunday's was my 6th. This left me last saturday with plenty of time on my hands as I was neither running nor drinking in preparation for sunday. Recently a tradition has grown where several of us bake and then after the run, we all eat cake on the bus ride ride.

Again, sounds nice doesn't it? I've got time and the inclination. I knew the easy flapjack option was already taken, so I searched out a Brownie recipe and adapted it to use the fresh rapsberries I'd just picked from my garden. Very carefully I doubled all the ingredients to there was enough to go around a whole coach:

Here's the recipe I used:
  • 50gs fresh rapsberries
  • 50gs small marshallow pieces
  • 100gs good quality dark chocolate
  • 8oz butter (jeez you need to hve just run a half marathon to eat this stuff)
  • 16oz Brown granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 4oz Self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Anyone spot the issue(s) yet?

Method, really easy:

  • Melt over a pan of lightly simmering water the butter and chocolate
  •  Mix everything else
  •  Onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and into over @ 180c, for 25 minutes, removing while the top is springy to the touch

  • Other than the fact my oven seems to be a bit hotter on the right hand side. I thought this looked practically perfect. Crusty at the top, light in texture, squidgy in the middle. Just like you'd want a brownie.

    However, the mistakes were:
    1) What I'd actually written was 1/2 teaspoon of salt but because it was under the 2 teaspoons of baking powder I'd missed the top line '1' - all you could taste was salt, this mistake ruined it.
    2) All the raspberries sank to a goo on the base, which made it very messy. This may well be why no one else even tries to make raspberry brownies
    3) The marshmellows had completely melted; so something of a waste
    4) I should have used plain flour, but I didn't have any - but the texture was good, so I seemed to have got away with that one

    So, all in, a pretty bad waste of a fine bar of chocolate. But definately one to be repeated (sans raspberries and excess salt) for the texture was bob on.

    Now, I've been accused of boasting about my Basil growing prowess. Which wasn't my intent. However *fanfare* I did manage to get under the 2 hour mark for the first time at the Great North and that I am sufficiently pleased with to boast about!

    PS: Other cakes on the bus were: flapjack, lemon drizzle (excellent), brownies and a tea loaf. Good cake eating times!