Thursday, 30 April 2009
The chicken is marinated in soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and brown sugar overnight which made it silky soft after cooking, mm. I always try to marinate my meat in something anyway because I always fear it will dry out whilst cooking. That could just be to do with my cooking skills but never mind. It would probably amuse you to know that I had a bit of trouble taking the mango apart. I started to cut it down the middle lengthways like you would an avocado, then remembered that the hairy seed in the centre is rather tough and you can't just separate the two halves that way. Messy mango. Hm.
I had a lot of fun cooking this though, as there was so much colour and it smelt so tasty too! I love stumbling across new recipes like this. I never would have thought to mix mango, chicken, cashew nuts and ginger together but would definitely recommend you try this to taste all those different flavours and textures together.
And the whole time, I had the mango song in my head which made it all the more fun :-) If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch it here. I guarantee you will hear it everytime a mango is mentioned from now on! Continue reading this post..
Monday, 27 April 2009
Some people assume that because I live, eat and breathe food, I must be a proper whizz in the kitchen. Well, it's time to set the record straight - I really am NOT! I hold my hands up - I'm quite the novice at times and although I did cook simple meals for myself at uni and stuff, I never really spent that much time in the kitchen (apart from to graze and eat stuff of course). Since I started my blog just over a year ago, I do cook alot more now and really enjoy it. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting better at it. Then occasionally I trip up over the most trivial of food-related things, which makes me laugh because amongst all those brilliant foodies out there, I must look kinda silly.
I mean, come on, only in the last few months, I've learnt how to switch the oven on properly without having to ask one of my housemates to check I've done it right! I attempted to make a risotto once and ended up with a horribly stodgy mess - I can't quite remember what I did because I've blocked the horror from my memory but I think I got a couple of the steps mixed up - heating the butter, veg AND rice in the stock at once instead of adding the stock gradually.
Another time, I couldn't understand why my shortbread dough wasn't sticking together and was then gently informed by my saviour housemate Grace that you can't knead dough with hardened butter. And then there was the time that I tried to make a chicken burger and...well, you can go and see the result for yourselves...
Anyway, I found it quite amusing earlier that I bodged up a seemingly simple dish of cannelloni. Now, although I had a packet of fresh lasagne sheets, I was still a little confused about whether they had to be boiled first or if they were ok to be bunged straight into the oven. These are the sorts of questions I find myself asking every day, so you may begin to see the true nature of my cooking ability...
I'm so glad I wasn't cooking for anybody else at the time! Though it would have been fun to see whether they would have pretended to look impressed. It still tasted nice you know. Just a bit tricky to get those slabs of lasagne sheets in my mouth. Of course, I didn't want to be defeated by getting a knife. What a feat.
Anyone for seconds?
Continue reading this post..
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Aye, me parrot concurs, tis cornish-pasty fla'oured crisps of The Lusty Pirate variety! Arrr, i couldn't resist tryin' them. What a cle'er bit o' product placement, puttin' pirate themed crisps in a cornish pasty shop - they war immediately sold t' me anyway!
Now, I be admittin' that I war a slight bit disheartened when me opens t' packet:
Thar war only about a quarter o' a packet inside, gar! Tasted like beef wit' a hint o' carrot but I warns ye, for the price charged (I be sayin' about 70p), ye hearties would be better off findin' other snacks t' satisfy ye stomachs.
Gar, ye'll ne'er get me buried booty!
Continue reading this post..
Thursday, 23 April 2009
I didn't want to just fry the pork so I chopped it up.
I didn't want to just stir-fry the pork pieces on their own because they always dry out when I do that.
And I didn't want to just marinade them in my usual soy sauce, sugar and dash of oil mixture simply because I was bored of it.
I rummaged about and found a bit of yellow veg - pepper and sweetcorn. Plus er, a mushroom. Remembered that I had rice vinegar so added that to the pork pieces. Chucked in some onions, cos, well, I like pork with onions.
But as I frying it all up, it didn't smell interesting enough so I squirted in some acacia honey. Eeeny-meeny-miney-mowed my herbs and ended up with some thyme to drop in.
When my nose and eyes were satisfied, I started to dish up. As I did, I realised that I had highly overestimated my rice serving, but instead of saving some for tomorrow, I just piled it all onto my plate. At the time of taking the photo, I was trying to hide the fact that I actually had a huge mountain of food. What you see is literally the tip of a whopping iceberg.
And that is the story of how The Avalanche was born.
Continue reading this post..
Monday, 20 April 2009
I stumbled across this website weeks ago for a discount card that can be used at various food and drink places in UK mainline train stations. It did take a few weeks to arrive in the post but it's worth the wait if you always tend to buy something at the station. I don't know about you but it's so tempting to grab a quick bite when you're on your travels. So why not save a few pennies whilst you're at it?
It can be used at most of the main food/drink outlets you expect to see at the station like The Pasty Shop, Millie's Cookies, Burger King, Delice de France, Pumpkin cafe and Upper Crust...
I did get some funny looks when I took this, as it was a packed train going out of Victoria but I'm sure they were just feeling jealous of my discounted bacon, brie and cranberry baguette.
There are also some great deals offered too. Get the latest ones here which can be used until the end of June 2009. You don't need the Bite card to use them but you also can't use the card to get 20% off the deals ;-)
Happy train eating!
Continue reading this post..
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Yes, I was sceptical - but the concept is pretty appealing, you've got to admit! It was originally published in Australia and has done phenomenonly well over there, selling over 1 million copies. It has just been published in the UK, so I'm glad I didn't have to wait for a long delivery!
I hate the expression, but you really do need to take this book with a pinch of salt. You can either slate it because it does bypass the use of extra ingredients, in favour or using pre-made versions for example - or love it, because it really does provide quick recipe ideas. By stripping the recipes down to their basic components, you can see what the bare essentials are, then experiment as you wish to add your own flavours. But even if you go with the recipe as is in the book, you can create a perfectly acceptable dish.
The book is kinda sectioned by course: breakfasts, lunches, mains and desserts, plus a great little section of cocktail/party food ideas as well as drinks. The mains are helpfully split by the meats (with a veggie section too of course) - handy if you want to quickly look up new ideas for what to do with those chicken breasts.
Written by two busy mums, the book is primarily aimed at similarly busy mums (there is a section on children's meals), but will have a general appeal to anyone who is time-starved or feeling a little cash-strapped, and still wants to make great food. This is certainly what made me buy the book and I'm not disappointed. You can find more info about the authors and the book at their website.
There is however a distinct lack of pictures and more could have been done to tart the layout up a bit. Although the instructions are short, they are set in one paragraph which makes it a little awkward to see what each step is. It would have been great to have the recipes in 4 points as well, to continue the theme!
What they need to do now is create a search tool where you can type in four ingredients of your choice, to bring up relevant recipes...
Of course, you could just google this or go on most recipe sites to find ideas, but wouldn't it be a great way for you to see what you can make from those random ingredients you have lying around the kitchen?!
Continue reading this post..
Saturday, 18 April 2009
I had a go at this earlier and it is really easy to do. There is not alot of preparation involved really (though it took me ages because of my manic photo-taking!) and you just need to bung it in the oven for 45 minutes or so.
You can leave it in the oven for longer to make it more golden - yes, I got impatiently hungry and took mine out earlier! Jamie's tip is to cook this on the bottom shelf to give it a nice crisp bottom...yum! Continue reading this post..
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
No, it just spells out the family name! Ng, yeh. My sister and I baked this sausage and leek pie to share with my parents. I think it went down ok. My mum seemed to finish hers really quickly anyway... Although she commented that her slice was smaller but I did cut them equally, honest!
My sister even made some mini hot cross buns with the leftover pastry since it was Easter and everything...
Hold on, yep, they were just tasty little dough balls really!
Someone suggested the other day that I should give up pastry for my next ban challenge. I did it last year for a month and it wasn't that bad. But that was when I wasn't cooking as much. Now that I'm starting to get into the whole baking thing, I'm not sure whether I'd be able to give this up just yet.
I still fancy the other challenge I was thinking of a couple of months ago to make the perfect Hungry Jenny pie this year too so perhaps it's not the right time to be giving up pastry...
Ok, ok, I admit it. I just love pies too much. Continue reading this post..
Monday, 13 April 2009
Can you believe this was her first attempt at roast lamb? I bow down once again in the presence of a truely great cook.
It's just like Christmas dinner all over again...*reminiscent sigh...* Continue reading this post..
Sunday, 12 April 2009
So I got back to Luton (where my folks live) yesterday afternoon, feeling rather groggy from the travel anyway and pretty bunged up. I was all set to lounge around the house with a hot cup of tea and was not really up for going out in this dreary state.
I woke up this morning feeling loads better. Don't know if it was because of the Beefeater trip last night, but now you know how to persuade me to do something. Wave the promise of a tasty steak in front of me. Continue reading this post..
Friday, 10 April 2009
There's a chinese buffet in Portsmouth that has the tastiest food but the staff are a bunch of unsmiling zombies. It's a good thing it's self-service there as you would not want to order from these unfriendly waiters!
There's nothing that angers me more in the food world than bad customer service (well that and cold beans), but last night I had one of those rare instances of fantastic service that I thought didn't exist anymore.
I'm up in Manchester at the moment visiting one of my best mates Sam. Last night, she took me to The Grill On the Alley, which is part of Blackhouse restaurants, a small set of restaurants that pride themselves on fresh produce and excellent service. Yes, I saw that from their website but I'm very glad to say that it lived up to its reputation.
The menu is mainly steaks and the like, but also has a good selection of seafood dishes as well. Sam and I were taking ages to decide what to have so munched on some baked bread whilst browsing the menu.
I was torn between the roasted seabream and ostrich fillet, both of which I've never tried before. Our friendly, informative waiter Ray did not seem bothered by my questions about the dishes and was surprisingly knowledgable about the food. Maybe I just don't go to restaurants like this enough but I don't usually expect the staff to be so well-informed! And when he listed the specials, it wasn't mumbled quickly in a manner that I'm used to hearing where you can't understand what they've just said. It was good that he gave the prices too. I was tempted by the pan-fried chicken dish that he mentioned but I eat chicken alot anyway so decided against it.
In the end, I was won over by Ray's description of the sea bream as 'similar to cod, but softer and lighter'. Ok, well it was something like that, but I can't really remember. And when it arrived, I was pretty impressed by the presentation:What a cool plate, huh? The sea of soy sauce was a little worrying, especially since I opted to have the sea bream on its own but it still tasted good. A lot nicer than cod actually, and very light. Good to try if you want to try seafood but are put off by having anything overly fishy. I wish I had ordered some steamed rice on the side now, purely because the soy broth proved too much for me after a while. It got really salty towards the end which spoilt it a bit for me but I still finished it off of course.
We were sitting near the kitchen so got to see alot of the other dishes being brought out which all looked amazing. There were times where we were left sniffing the air after the waft of something delicious floated past us. Luckily the restaurant seemed quite packed for anyone to notice this (I think)! Despite the hustle and bustle though, we didn't feel neglected once and remained impressed at the attentive service we received throughout our time there. Bravo to Ray :-)
Definitely one to visit again. I've already badgered Sam to take me here again next time I'm up in Manchester! In fact, we've already decided to try the ostrich and kobe burger next time we go...
Other restaurants I've tried that you might like to read about. Continue reading this post..
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Lutonian = person from Luton, a town once declared as the 'crappest' town in Britain due to its doom and gloom in nature and not exactly the most friendly place to live in.
Posh place = an establishment with a certain air and grace about it that could make a Lutonian feel a little out of place
When you go to a restaurant (or any public place in fact), you always run the risk of being stuck near a group of youths making too much inappropriate noise. You know the group I mean - the silly girls giggling at the back of a cinema at the hunky star, the rowdy lads at the next table in the pub gawfawing so loudly, you can't hear what your friends are saying. Then there's the noisy Lutonians catching up over lunch in a slightly posh restaurant in Covent Garden. Yes, it was me and my mates *hangs head in shame*
It wasn't 'posh' as such, but just wasn't what we expected it to be at all. Or rather, what I expected it to be because I picked it!
Christopher's Grill is an American bar and grill housed in a Victorian building in Covent Garden. As soon as I walked in and saw a sea of clean white tablecloths draped over intimate square tables, I knew we were in trouble. Now I'm not a particularly 'rowdy' person but whenever I get together with my old college friends, we always manage to have a good cackle over something.
There was a bit of kerfuffle caused when my friend Nathan managed to knock over a glass of water, so we had to be moved to another table. Our questions to the waitress about the size of the portions were met with a raised eyebrow too. Well, there was a section on the menu of 'Substantial dishes' so it just felt necessary to find out how substantial they were! And it was funny that we were corrected whilst ordering our food. The 'classic hamburger', not a 'cheeseburger'; the 'Texas Grill' not the 'mixed grill', if you will.
The food itself?
Lovingly presented, not so substantial. BUT - and that's a big but, we are so used to shoveling down massive portions of food that when we're presented with a portion that is actually the recommended allowance, it just appears too minute. In other words, yes, we're just greedy people.
However, to pay £17.50 for a 2-course set menu here was too much I feel. The mixed grill (whoops, Texas grill) was nice enough, but not amazing. And the cheesecake was extremely dry and bland. Our bill came to just over a hundred quid (because we had cocktails), which is a price not unheard of in London, I accept - but for this meal, it just didn't seem justified. I enjoy real wholesome food in a place that I feel comfortable in.
Monday, 6 April 2009
I've never been able to justify to myself buying lunch (apart from the very rare occasion). To me, it feels like I'm pouring my cash down the drain every day. Yes, it's only a few quid here and there but what's that - about £200 over a year?! You could buy more interesting things with that than a Tesco's sarnie. (Don't comment if I've got my maths wrong please...)
I'm still one for express lunches though and have now got some 'staple' lunches that are easy and quick to make when I'm not in the mood to look up something new.
The recipes are basic because they're literally tossing a bunch of ingredients together (with the occasional boil of the old rice, or grillage of some sort). You'll also notice alot of recurring ingredients which means you won't be wasteful with your weekly shop! I do like to make sure that I use up everything in the fridge.
125g basmati rice
1 yellow pepper, chopped
Handful of dwarf/fine beans, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1) Bring the rice to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes til cooked. Leave to cool.
2) Mix together the chickpeas, pepper, boiled dwarf beans and spring onion.
3) Stir in rice, coriander and squeeze the lemon juice all over to serve.
Mostly Mexican Salad
1 avocado cut into chunks
400g can of kidney beans
200g can of sweetcorn
Large handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Half a cucumber, cut into chunks
Half a red onion
Bunch of fresh coriander
Bit of cumin
Half lime juice (optional)
1) Hard boil the eggs, then leave to cool.
2) Mix together the chopped tomatoes, avocado, kidney beans, sweetcorn, cucumber, coriander and cumin
3) Quarter the eggs and sit on top (of the salad, not you on the egg)
Lime Beansprout and Prawn Salad
Handful of beansprouts
Handful of cooked prawns
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot, finely chopped
Half a courgette, cubed
Handful of cashew nuts, crushed
1) Stir fry the beansprouts and prawns for a couple of minutes.
2) Mix together the courgette, carrot, mushroom, spring onion and crushed cashew nuts
3) Add beansprouts and prawns, then squeeze over the lime juice
Aubergine Feta Salad
Half an aubergine, sliced
Small handful feta cheese, cubed
2 portions of cooked couscous
2 tomatoes, chopped
Half a courgette, cubed
Few tbsp sweetcorn
Juice of half a lemon
Mint leaves, fresh or dried
1) Lightly oil the aubergine slices and grill on both sides.
2) Mix the couscous with the chopped tomatoes, courgette and sweetcorn.
3) Squeeze over the lemon juice, then stir in the mint and nestle in the feta.
Wild Rice and Kidney Bean Salad
100g basmati rice
25g wild rice
400g can of kidney beans
Juice of 1 lemon
1) Boil the rice in slightly salted water, then leave to simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Rinse and drain under cold water. Leave to cool.
2) Toss together the pepper, kidney beans and herbs.
3) Mix in the rice and stir in the lemon juice.
Did you notice that four out of five are veggie options? See, I'm not always so meat-track minded!
If you liked this, you might also like these 4 ways to get fruity with salad for lunch too!
Saturday, 4 April 2009
It was my own fault really. I was due to meet my best buds from college but was running an hour late due to the most tedious train delays ever (it took me 3 hours instead of an hour and a half!). I hate being late anyway, but knowing that my mates were waiting for me was making me feel even more flustered.
By the time I got there, I was desperate for the loo, yet felt the need to get a drink order in because I was absolutely gasping for some alcholic relief after that journey. So with bladder pushing, friends chattering and waiter, er, waiting, I hastily ordered a cosmo because the menu was too detailed with fancy descriptions to scan read. I should have known better to do that since there weren't any prices on the menu (though I could be wrong since I was looking at it so quickly).
Have I been living in a hole or is that honestly a normal price for a classic cocktail in London these days? I'm so glad I didn't order another one!
Continue reading this post..
Friday, 3 April 2009
Wow. My goodness, the saliva that enraged my mouth at the sight of these words was just too much. Luckily, this was sent round just a few hours before the meal so I didn't accidentally eat anyone to satisfy the overwhelming hunger I suddenly felt upon reading this menu.
My housemate Grace and I were a little late (we got lost trying to find the road) but were delighted to see that the starter was due to be served soon after we arrived:
We were warned of lumps and chunks in the soup, but I prefer chunky soups to watery runny ones anyway and thought it tasted great. Very carroty and parsnip-like. Yes, I could be a real food critic, me.
I was munching on the second-to-last piece of garlic bread when Anna returned to clear our dishes. "Who's going to have the last bit then?" she asked. I nominated Grace, for she loves The Garlic and can often be found murmuring the word every now and again at any hint of the stuff. But she politely turned it down, admitting she'd already had two pieces.
Two? Er, whoops, I think I had about four. Looking back at the picture, it looked like there were about 12 pieces. There were six of us dining.
Well, in my defence, Suze said she had about four as well...
Needless to say, a greed debate was avoided by the distraction of Rat in the Stack. It's a bit like Pop-Up Pirate but with a rat. I named him Melville and he made a nice addition to my main course...
Oh, as if I would eat a rat! He was just there as a garnish of course. Now the dessert was my favourite course, even though creme bruleé is something that I'm not that keen on. Well, I've tried it twice and both times it was just too wibbly and odd. But this time I was simply won over by the elegant presentation.
It makes me hang my head in shame at all the mismatched tableware I have at home. An accumulation of past and present housemates' crockery if you will.
I'm a little nervous about my Come Dine With Me now - the bar has yet again been raised...
Read more Hungry Jenny Come Dine With Me Continue reading this post..