ordinary and oddinary

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Archive for the category “All about food”

My lunch dilemma

Once upon a time, I worked at a company which had a cafeteria and provided a free lunch. The food was generally not bad. However I complained (to myself mostly) that I would like to go out and eat, the menu was a bit monotonous or more specifically the meat tasted rubbery and so on. In retrospect, I want to hide myself in a small rat hole! How bloody arrogant and ungrateful was I!  I now sincerely apologise to the chefs at that company who cooked me a stress-free meal every working day. Just for that I could go back to that job. Hmmm.. maybe that’s not 100% true, but you know what I mean. 🙂

Sorting out lunch is a day-to-day battle for me.
I really want to have a good lunch because it will help me keep away from all the rubbish food I end up eating in the evening. It will probably help me shed a couple of pounds.

I normallyhave a cuppa with a couple of sweet biscuits for a breakfast. No problem there. I sometimes eat fairly ‘nasty’ snacks during the morning and I don’t get hungry till about 2 or 3pm. I’ve got one hour for lunch but… the thing is that I prefer use this time at the gym.

Hence the real problem starts there. After my workout, I need to eat something. As Mcdonald is close by, I sometimes get a £1 cheeseburger and bring in to the office. I’m not a big fan of burgers but it comes in handy. I also go to Morrison to buy a couple of chicken roast thighs or drumsticks – this is highly unreliable because they tend to be sold out by the time I pop by and they have increased the price from 45p to 65p per each gradually for the last few months for an even smaller size. I’m not happy about it at all, so not buying them is kind of my silent protest. Oh, I go to Morrison’s cafeteria to have a proper lunch at times (resulting in skipping my workout session) but it is not exactly cheap and most importantly the food is boring and heavy. Even if I want to, one hour is not sufficient to go to a restaurant and order a proper dish let alone enjoy it.

Since I make a lunch box for Mark every day, it would be the most practical idea to make one more for myself. However, I really don’t want to do it. From bringing a lunch box (and putting in my beautiful bag) to eating in the office, everything about this whole packed lunch idea is so unglamorous and off-putting. Furthemore, eating my own cooked food in the office is something I’d rather keep as private. It’s too personal to share.

Well, I could compromise to bringing something *uncooked* into the office. I could less offensively bring a home-made salad, a sandwich, boiled eggs, tuna tins, etc.  Oh no, it still doesn’t sit nicely in my head. So uncool.

I wish I didn’t have to eat lunch. (Actually I’d rather starve than eat something tasteless.)
I wish I didn’t feel hungry at all at lunch (Sometimes I don’t.)
I once tried a gigantic breakfast to hold til dinner but it didn’t work for me. I felt even more hungry at lunchtime and ended up eating a roast dish.
Alas..it’s more like putting out fires on a daily basis.

…The perfect solution would be somebody delivers a tasty meal every day. I would still have to eat it in the office but if it were pretty to look at and professionally cooked by somebody else, I would be able to accept it. It would be fashionable and impersonal.

They knew all along the way.

They knew it before I knew it! lol

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach

Meaning:
Cooking for a man is a good way to win his affections.

Proverbs in other languages:

Chinese:
Mandarin: 要捉住男人的心,先要抓住他的胃 (zh)

Estonian: armastus käib kõhu kaudu (et)

German: Liebe geht durch den Magen (de)

Greek: η καρδιά του άνδρα περνά απ’ το στομάχι (el)

Russian: путь к сердцу мужчины лежит через желудок

Turkish: erkeğin kalbine giden yol midesinden geçer (tr)

A memorable summer get-together.

I’ve invited my work colleagues and their partners to my holiday home in Spain to celebrate my birthday (yay!) and have a good gathering on 30 June.

I’d been considering this for a long time but the necessary momentum didn’t arrive till a few weeks before. It’s about the time. I’ve got now a new artificial lawn and fixed a few annoying bits in the house. Now or never! You’ve gotta flaunt it when a good money is spent, no? lol

In conclusion, it was a great day out. Everybody invited (14 people) all turned up and enjoyed my foodies. From the sourcing the ingredients and cooking, I’ve done it all, which I’m very proud of.  Yes it was hard work.  I peeled a total of 170 langostines (3kg) for one of the starters and it took me 3-4 hours and pain on my both arms and back. But it was worth it. 🙂

The following is the menu and a bit of after cooking notes.

Appetizer with Drinks

 

.Drinks (wine, beer, water, soft drinks, etc) – Since many people had to drive, I’ve prepared sizable amount of non-alcoholic beverage. It was a good choice.

.Olives, Baguette (same day), small ciabatta, Crisps – Bread wasn’t really needed because everybody was busy getting the main!

.Quail eggs in soy sauce – Over 100 quail eggs peeled and cooked. Most of them never tasted it before but they went down alright.

.Shrimps platter – This went down like a storm. Everybody couldn’t get enough of them. I grilled them with ginger & garlic and served chilled with my special sauce.


Salad

.Simple tomato & onion olive salad – Very refreshing.

.Fried Peppers – Prepared only one pack. ok.

.Kimchi fried rice – The only authentic Korean dish I cooked and people liked it a lot. I made Kimchi about two weeks ago for this.

Main

 

 .Beef Marinade – Tried and liked by Mark’s brother. People loved it!

 .Chicken breast marinade – Marinated the night before with special seasoning and shallow fried with Spanish breadcrumbs on. Disappeared very quickly.

 .Chicken drumsticks in red wine vinegar/cream butter reduction– Lots of them left. Not that they didn’t like them, but wanted them for a doggy bag. 

 .Pork spare ribs – Fall-apart ribs and guys loved it!

 .German sausages with sauerkraut – This was ok. Just added a bit of difference.


Desserts

 

Coffee delight Even I was impressed! Strong coffee, crem fresche and amaretti cookies make a perfect jelly dessert!

German apple pie/ice creams – gone in 5 seconds!

Cherries – For people on a diet (ha ha)

 I’m now more confident inviting a larger number of people. Sorry to be so obnoxious but I think I’m a very good cook! 🙂

Challah Bread

I think it’s probably about 7-8 years ago.

One Friday morning, I went to a local bakery to get myself a bagel. There were quite a few Jewish people in the bakery and all of them were collecting bags of bread. They gave their names and the assistant went inside of the kitchen to get a white plastic bag of bread for them all.

I couldn’t see what was inside very clearly, but it was an oddly shaped loaf. I got intrigued and asked for the same (you know..like ‘THAT’ one please lol). She looked at me and asked if I had ordered already. I said I forgot to order and asked if she had anything extra left in the kitchen. She didn’t sound very convinced but told me that she would go in and check. Then, luckily she did have some extra. And I asked what this bread was called. She said it was called ‘Challah’ bread and only sold on Fridays on a pre-order basis.

Anyway, I was quite happy with my new discovery. I went to work and tried some of the bread that I accidentally bought. It looked pretty and tasted nice.  It tasted clean, simple, not sweet or salty. But you could tell it contained lots of eggs in the taste/smell and the colour. Its egg wash made the outside distinctively golden brown and gave a stronger egg smell. Depending on a day, this egg smell isn’t always pleasant I must admit. I’ve found a photo from google and done some research about this bread on the internet.

 

 According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread. That’s why I could only see this bread on Fridays.

All Jewish family, which usually has 4-5 kids or more, need to have three meals out of challah bread, no wonder all Jewish mums and dads come collect bags of challah bread every Friday morning from the local bakery.

Traditional challah recipes use a large number of eggs, fine white flour, water, yeast, and sugar and must not contain either dairy or meat. Each single loaf is woven with six strands, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel.

Since then, I’ve become a regular buyer of challah bread. The fact it’s not available every day and it must be baked at a kosher-certified place is quite attractive. Now one of my colleagues has become a fan of challah bread and buys it every Friday. I don’t think I will convert to Judaism, but I’m very happy to live in a place where I can come by lots of Kosher food.

You can click here to find more about challah bread.

Danone launches Yolado!

 While we’re staying at our house in Spain over the weekend, we came across a TV ad which caught our eyes. It’s a new dairy product called ‘Yolado’. Yolado is a new Dadone’s product composed with two names which are yogur (yoghurt) and helado (icecream). It sounds like a frozen yoghurt but it should be creamier and smoother (well yes it should be!). 

 Apparently it was launched on 14 May in Spain. I presume they are available in Carrefour at least. Thus, I’m going to check out Carrefour this Saturday before doing the usual grocery shopping at Mercadona. I’ve got something to look forward to. Is it sad??

Top 10 restaurants in the world

I doubt that I will travel to these places just to have a dinner, but it’s very interesting to know there are 4 restaurants from the list not too far away from where I live. Well, that fact that Spain is a vast country makes my statement ‘not too far away’ loosely false, however, at least I can travel by car!

I would consider myself a timid foodie. I hate eating not-so-tasty food for the sake of hunger. I’d rather happily rest my appetite with fairly generic stuff such as fruits, plain bread, water, etc. I would not exert myself mightily to visit renowned restaurants just to be another lemming. I will go when I can combine other attractions of the place. 🙂

This is the original article I’ve read from ABC.es and their chosen top 10 restaurants are like below.

1.- Noma. Copenhagen (Denmark)
2.-El Celler de Can Roca. Gerona (Spain)
3.-Mugaritz. Rentería, Guipúzcoa  (Spain)
4.- D.O.M. Sao Paulo (Brazil)
5.- Osteria Francescana. Módena (Italy)
6.- Per Se. New York (USA)
7.- Alinea. Chicago (USA)
8.- Arzak. San Sebastián (Spain)
9.- Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. London (Great Britain)
10.- Eleven Madison Park. New York (USA)

Bahlsen’s ‘HIT’ biscuit

 Recently, I’ve been developing a bit of sweet tooth for this biscuit called ‘HIT‘. When I arrive at work, I make a cup of tea and bring two of them from the kitchenette.

  

 
 
This biscuit ‘HIT’ is made of two biscuits sandwich with a cocoa creme filling. They are so crunchy and light. The biscuit itself is not too sweet or even savoury yet not dull either, which enhances the delectable cocoa cream flavour. It’s just perfect harmony between them. I normally bite off the top biscuit to enjoy its gorgeous crunchiness and then move on to the bottom half biscuit with the cream like an open sandwich.

  I googled the brand of this biscuit, ‘Bahlsen’ out of curiosity. (I google almost everything I come across anyway!) Bahlsen is a Hannover-based German confectioner with a history of over 120 years, which makes a range of biscuits and cakes. Come to think of it, another favourite of mine ‘Choco Leibniz Dark’ is Bahlsen’s too.

  Though Morrisons has a reasonably large selection of Bahlsen’s, I cannot help thinking about the flavours of other unavailable cakes and biscuits (i.e. PiCK UP!) which I’ve seen on their website.  Until then I’m gonna try other Balsen’s biscuits which I can get around here first. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.   🙂

Dried anchovies with onion chutney

Is anybody familiar with dried anchovies? See below image I’ve googled.

Koreans eat them a lot. They stir-fry them with soy sauce or chilli paste (gochujamg) if they are small in size or filleted, and they use them to make fish stock for further cooking. You can eat them raw as well because they are just dried fish. They are naturally salty (or maybe salted), hence it’s eaten with a bowl of rice. Why am I suddenly talking about this? Here is my reason – my beloved mum has been sending me bags and bags of dried anchovies from Korea and I don’t know what to do with them, well I didn’t know.

Korean meals cannot be completed without a bowl of rice. In other words, if you don’t eat a bowl of rice, almost all Korean cooking becomes slightly awkward and confined. I guess this applies to Asian cooking in general. 

As I posted a few times, I’m a fast fast cook. Even when I make rice, which is not more often than making pasta or potato dish, I tend to cook it in a sauce. It’s difficult to define my cooking style – I mix different spices and try various methods.

When I stayed at Hotel Barcelo Punta Umbria about two weeks ago, I really enjoyed their onion chutney with cheese & water crackers at the buffet restaurant. The chutney was made of beautifully caramelised onion, sultana, and unforgettable cinnamon taste. It went wonderfully well with different types of cheese. While I was having a full plate of that, I thought to myself, this combination of salty and sweet would/could work well if I replaced the cheese with dries anchovies!

Upon arriving home, I’d been thinking about it but hadn’t put it to the test till a last Thursday. At first I was going to make stir-fried anchovies plus chutney then mix them together, but I decided not to do that way. This is how I did.

1. Pour olive oil on a hot pan and throw a few cayenne peppers to get spiciness out.
2. Scoop out the peppers and pour anchovies. Be careful not to burn them.
3. Mix them a spoon of molasse and brown sugar.
4. Move the mixture to the side (I think it would have been better if I had moved it out of the pan completely and mixed later on because the result tasted slightly burnt.) and fry red onion slices on low heat.
5. When red onion is being cooked, mix it with the anchovies.
6. Put vinegar and cinnamon stick & sultanas.
7. Keep stirring them till all is well mixed and cooked and leave it on a low heat for a while.

It was quite tasty say the least.
It was versatile enough to accompany rice, legume, or even slice of baguette. Oh, it goes fabulously well with a glass of red wine too.

I’m so glad that I’ve got a way to use up the sleeping-in-my-freezer anchovies and actually love them. 🙂

Guisantes con jamón (petites pois with jamon)

 I went to Huelva region two weeks ago for the long weekend and had a wonderful time. I stayed at a hotel in Punta Umbria and had a day trip to El Rocio and Vila Real de Santo Antonio (Portugal).  Huelva is very well-known for its beautiful pork based food and seafood and it totally lived up to its name. I had to go on an emergency diet since I got back because I had eaten a whole week’s worth of food  for just three days’ stay over there!

This [Guisantes con jamón] dish was part of ‘menu del dia’ that I had at Bollullos del Condado. It was a small village on the way to Punta Umbria. There were a handful of big restaurants along the long street and obviously attracts locals and tourists.

I didn’t think it would be much of a surprise but boy, how wrong I was.
It was rich and delicious. And from the glance of it, it couldn’t be hard to make. Hence, I did make it just from my memory when I got back home and it was as good as the one I had had in Bollullos.

What you need are frozen petites pois, diced jamon, a few garlic cloves, one onion, one egg, a cube of chicken stock and some olive oil.

First , pour some olive oil in a pan and fry chopped onion & garlic till brown. Next,  throw petites pois then diced jamon in the pan. When they are well coated with the oil and aroma, pour some water just enough to cover the contents. Drop a half cube of chicken stock and leave the pan for a while. And then, turn off the heat and put one egg in. Once you put the lid on, the egg will be cooked from the remaining heat and you can serve the dish.

Voila, so easy isn’t it?

I found a recipe site which more or less confirmed that my experiment was quite good. The only difference was that I poured water in because I wanted to use the rich salsa to dip a couple of baguette slices.

A parcel delivered.

When I came back home from my trip, one of the first things I did was to send a big parcel to my family. What happened? Well, they loved my goodies so much and wanted more! Remember this and this post that I wrote before I went off? (I didn’t bring everything I mentioned here but most of them.)

To recap, I will tell you what I put in the parcel. BTW, they received it a few days ago and were very happy with the contents.

1. Ventresca & Bonito del Norte tunas: My sister described it ‘Oh God, all the tunas we’ve eaten so far were rubbish!’ Hahaha yes, this is gorgeous.

2. Piquitos: You will be first served with a little basket full of piquitos and rolls before ordering, at any restaurant in Spain. They are dry breadsticks and can be eaten with dips or as its own. Yums!

3. Pimientos del piquillo: I love these peppers. They are naturally sweet and juicy. They are fire roasted, hence keep its slightly burnt flavour. They can be served as ‘stuffed peppers’ or sliced ones are used in a refreshing salad. How versatile!

4. Olives: What more can I say? I love buying olives from a local market. They come in different flavours and sizes. It’s a staple for Spaniards. Life without olives/olive oil? Can’t imagine.

 Most of them were water/oil based, thus they were on the heavy side. It was around 11kg and cost me £67.52 via EMS. Not bad at all.  It was the least I could do for them.

 
 

 

 

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