Thursday 31 January 2008

Does what it says on the tin...

For once we can see some packaging that doesn't lie...

You guessed it right, Ainsley does not belong among my favorite TV-chefs. To be honest, I'm not even sure if he qualifies for the title chef...

Sunday 27 January 2008

Review - The Gorge Cafe

The Gorge Cafe, or just The Gorge, is a Reading institution. You can find it here.

I've read many a time that Englands only worthwhile contribution to world cuisine is the fry-up. Who am I to argue with these writers? After all, they have been properly published so they must know what they are writing about. ;)

There's only one serious option if you ever have the (mis)fortune to find yourself in Reading and simultaneously in the mood for a fry-up. It is The Gorge.

The Gorge has a almost religious following and many a reveller from the nearby Reading Festival campsite has been saved from a near death experience by their excellent food.

It's only natural that their menu focuses on variations on the all day breakfast theme but that's not all they do. You'll find omelettes, jacket potatoes and much more to choose from. There's also options for the freaks, sorry - vegetarians, out there.

You can add and remove items from your chosen fry-up as well. As you can see from my plate I went for the All Day Breakfast with added black pudding and mushrooms.

The interior makes you feel like you are sitting in a cave, which is quite cool.

Don't be surprised if it is full when you arrive - the place is very popular. Come down on a summer Sunday and you will almost not be able to make it to the entrance due to all motorcycles that are parked outside.

Mikey's verdict: Go there and have a great fry-up!

For you who will complain about the unhealthiness in it - I walk there and back. That way I kan kid myself that I offset the bad stuff! :)

A All Day Breakfast with added black pudding and mushrooms. Yummy!

Interior shot where you can see the 'cave ceiling' as well as some of the menu options on the blackboards in the background.

Saturday 26 January 2008

Recipe - Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I thought I'd test out an idea for the Super Bowl Party that I'm holding next weekend. This might make it onto the shortlist..

Normally I would make my own barbecue sauce but I was feeling a bit lazy. Besides that, there was a bottle of barbecue sauce in the pantry that looked like it wanted to volunteer. Nuff said!

3 skin- and boneless chicken breasts
Dry rub
Cherry Smoke Pellets
Barbecue Sauce

Rub the chicken breasts with the dry rub of your choice. Set the barbecue up for indirect cooking and get the smoke going. Cook the chicken breasts until done. Once done pull the chicken into smaller pieces. You can use two forks for this but I prefer to use my hands. Don't pull it to thin because then it just turns into mush when you put it in with the sauce.

Pour the barbecue sauce (I used Southern Sunset Bar-B-Que Sauce from Roadhouse BBQ) into a pan and heat until boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Once the sauce starts to thicken you can add the chicken pieces and let it heat through.

Split the rolls and spoon up mixture and put the lid back on.

I served this with twice cooked fries.

The cherry wood smoke pellets before being put into the barbie.

Chicken breasts on their way to perfection.

Shredded chicken.
Simmering away.

Friday 25 January 2008

My dirty culinary secret

We all got our dirty secrets. This is my dirty culinary secret...

For those of you who are innocent enough not to recognise what this is: It's a kebab burger.

Yes, you read that correctly. A kebab burger. It's exactly what it sounds like. Start with a 1/2 pound cheese burger. Then add doner kebab meat and various salad items. The best place to get this monstrosity is at Mr Peeps kebab van outside Reading University.

Disgusting? Yes! Unhealthy? Yes! Against everything I believe in when it comes to food? Yes! A freak of culinary abnormality? Yes! Irresistible? Yes.

Thankfully I only succumb to the lure of the kebab burger about once a month. It makes me feel dirty for days afterwards... ;)

Woken up by the sound of sobbing...

I got woken up around 05:30 this morning, by the sound of sobbing. The sound came from outside my window, from the patio in the back garden.

When I investigated what was making the noise I found out that it was my barbecue. It was feeling underused and neglected.

So... Expect a recipe post tomorrow that at least in part necessitates the use of a barbecue. That should cheer the little rascal up a bit.

Also, there should be a review of a legendary Reading eatery being posted on Sunday.

Stuff to look forward to, exciting...

Thursday 24 January 2008

Boring Bento with pasta leftovers

Not much going on here...

I must admit that this Bento reeks of lack of imagination, but at least it should be fairly filling.

As you can see the main part of it consists of leftover pasta from yesterdays post. Fruit and veg is provided with some carrot and dried bananas. One thing of interests is the muffin trays that I put the carrot and banana in, they're made of silicone and not paper. That should mean that they are a bit more environmentally friendly, since I can re-use them, and that they should be much more resistant against moisture. That should keep foods like dried bananas from turning mushy.

As always there's a bottle of Actimel too.

[There might not be a post for tomorrow since it's the warm up game for our new poker tournament tonight. If things go to plan I'll be home too late to be making a Bento for tomorrow.]

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Recipe - Meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta

I didn't have too much imagination today, so it had to be something quick and dirty. Yes, I'm talking about my dinner now and nothing else. ;)

Meatballs (I used some I've made before that was in the freezer)
Chopped onion
Chopped garlic
Chopped tomatoes (I used two cans)
Mixed herbs, oregano etc.
Red Wine Vinegar
Grated cheddar

Start by sweating the onions and garlic until translucent together with the herbs. Add tomatoes, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. When this mixture boils, lower the heat and let it simmer. Let it simmer until it has reduced to the consistency that you want.

Heat the grill to medium. Once the mixture in the pan has the desired consistency pour it into a heat resistant bowl or similar. Mix in the meatballs and top with the grated cheese. Let it stay under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and has a nice colour.

Serve with pasta.


Simmering and reducing.

Waiting to get under the grill.

The grill has performed its magic and it's ready to get plated.

Monday 21 January 2008

Woohoo! New stuff just arrived [UPDATED]

I just had part of my latest order from J-List turn up at work. There are some cool stuff, mainly for Bento making, in this one. I'll post pictures when I get home.

The pictures are here now! ;)

In this picture you can see my new aluminium Bento box. My crab, tulip and penguin wiener cutters. Last but not least, there's also my microwave heart shaped egg maker.

This is my sake glasses/cups. Complete with erotic motifs. ;)

A plush Domo-kun, he's the mascot of Japans NHK television station. People who have been around the internet for some years will probably recognise him from the picture below. ;)

Sunday 20 January 2008

Recipe - Sloppy Joes

I was thinking of making burgers for my sport-a-thon but felt that would be a bit common. So, Sloppy Joes it is instead.

First off I was making just normal Sloppy Joes but I decided to freestyle it a bit. I had some of my pulled pork in the freezer so I thought I'd add that as well as the mince. Good thinking! :)

Chopped onion (I used 4 onions)
Chopped garlic
Mince (I used 800g)
Pulled pork (optional, I used about 400g)
Crushed tomatoes
Red Wine Vinegar
Yellow Mustard
Hot water

To serve
Grated Cheese (I used Canadian Cheddar to keep with the hockey theme)
Chopped Onion
Buns (grilled until a bit crispy)
Hot Sauce (I used Cholula, which is awesome)
Twice cooked fries

Start by sweating the onion and garlic until they are translucent, adding oregano half way through the process. Once translucent, put to the side and reserve.

Then start browning the mince, adding the pork once the mince is browned and most of the liquid from it has evaporated. Add tomatoes, vinegar, water and mustard. Stir well to combine.

Let this mixture simmer away until you it has reached the consistency you want.

Serve it by putting it on the grilled buns, topping with cheese, onion and hot sauce.


The onions are sweated and ready. Just waiting for the mince to get it's arse into gear.

The mince is done and the pork just jumped into the pan.

The wet ingredients have been added and it's time to stir things up.

Simmering and stewing...

The sides, including the lovely Cholula.

Friday 18 January 2008

Super Sunday

Due to various reshuffles in the house I live in I will now end up with a proper satellite receiver and what looks like every movie and sports channel known to man, or at least man in England.

I'll be moving tomorrow, Saturday, so I won't have much time to chill in front of the TV but I'm making sure to recoup that on Sunday.

This is my planned viewing schedule for Sunday.

Start Finish Channel Teams League
13:00 15:30 Sky Sports 1 Wigan v Everton Premiership
15:30 18:00 Sky Sports 1 Man City v West Ham Premiership
17:30 20:00 NASN Boston v NY Rangers NHL
20:00 23:00 Sky Sports 2 Patriots v Chargers NFL
22:00 00:30 NASN Toronto v New Jersey NHL
23:00 03:00 Sky Sports 2 Packers v Giants NFL

Some people might think of this a tad bit excessive but they just don't know how long it has been since I could watch a NHL game at a decent time of day.

What does this have to do with food? Everything! I'm currently trying to figure out what to cook for myself as I enjoy this sport-a-thon.

The usual suspects do pop up. Chicken wings, pizza, chilli and so on. There will probably be some beer-age too and I can't see myself watching this without some peanuts, popcorn and so on as well.

Does any of you readers have any ideas, links or recipes that you'd like to share? Ice hockey puck shaped cookies perhaps?

Another thing I have to figure out is how to explain my zombie like state at work on Monday. But hey, let's save that problem for Monday morning. :)

Thursday 17 January 2008


I haven't been able to tell you about this until it all was signed but I'm now a Featured Publisher at You can find my profile here. It's a great site so make sure to visit it and have a look around.

Quite cool, eh? ;)

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Kids and pubs

In my declaration of what this blog is about I mention rants. I think it's time for my first rant now...

The British pub chain Wetherspoons recently announced a limit of two alcoholic drinks for parents who brings kids to their pub. You can read more about it here, here and here.

This has been heavily debated, in media as well as 'around the water cooler'. I just thought that I would add my two pennies worth to the debate.

To start with, I know that I'll never win the Father of the year award. It's about as likely as Britney Spears getting Mother of the year at the same time. However, I have very strong views on children and how to raise them. Besides, it's my blog and I write about what I want ;)

I do think their decision is a very good decision. Pubs are very rarely a good environment for kids, although the smoking ban has improved the physical environment for them. Earlier you could see parents sitting in the pub, happily puffing away on their cigarettes with their babies in prams next to them. That's a sight that always managed to piss me off. The poor kids had not asked for that.

As a kid you are more or less constantly embarrassed over your parents. Having to sit in a pub and watch your parents get more and more drunk and behaving like idiots does not make that any less of an issue. Although I would never condone, more about that in another rant later, eating in a pub I can somewhat understand parents taking their kids there for a cheap (and nasty) meal. What I can't understand is parents spending an entire day down the pub getting more and more drunk with the kids showing ever more despair in their eyes.

It's not just the parents drinking and (mis)behaviour that affects children in a pub. There's also the rest of the customers to take into account. Wetherspoons have historically not been showing sports in their pubs so they are a bit exempt from my next example. I know that myself, and many of my friends, do not set the best examples whilst watching sports in a pub. Put on a football (soccer for my friends across the pond) match and the language goes well south. Everything from the provenance of the referees mum to the sexual habits of the opposing teams players are being discussed. These discussions are normally very loud and peppered with some very inventive cursing. I know fully well that most kids are well versed in the noble art of swearing from a very tender age but there's no need to bring them to the pub to enhance their vocabulary.

To conclude, I fully support Wetherspoons decision to limit parents to two alcoholic drinks per visit if they have their kids with them. If I had my way the kids should not have to spend time in a pub at all. There are far better establishments to bring your kids to for a nice and cheap meal than a pub. And no, I'm not talking about BK or Mackie D's.

I would love to see some comments so, discuss! ;)

Monday 14 January 2008

Bento #005

This time it is a Bento with a slightly Moroccan/Middle Eastern twist.

In the upper tier we find a Babybel cheese, some sun dried Goji berries, a couple of segments of Minneola/Tangelo and the strange looking thing furthest to the left is a Quails egg fried in a ring of green pepper. Arty, eh? ;) If you wonder what the 'red blobs' on the yoke is - it's Tabasco.

In the background you can see my bottle of Actimel as well as a can of Ubuntu Cola. Ubuntu Cola is the worlds first Fairtrade cola and well worth trying, if nothing else just to support Fairtrade. It tastes a bit like Jolt Cola, at least that's what I think.

The Moroccan/Middle eastern twist comes in when you look at the lower tier. I diced some leg of lamb, cut up red onion , green pepper and garlic. This was marinated with rose harissa and olive oil and then fried. It's put on a bed of (I sound like a wanky restaurant menu now) of lemon and coriander flavoured couscous.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Bento #004

A fairly standard Bento for tomorrows lunch...

The upper tier consists of half a Kiwi (I'm not buying such a big pack of them next time), some carrot sticks a Cheddar Babybel and two hard boiled Quail eggs. I've never tried Quail eggs before so that could be interesting.

In the lower tier I've put two rice rolls with some seasoning in the middle of them. For the meaty part I took some Turkey breast and went postal on it with a meat mallet until it was nice and thin. I cut that into smaller pieces that were marinated in Teriayki marinade, Sake and some chilli sauce. A quick visit to the frying pan later it was ready to get into the box.

Tomorrows treat will be a licorice stick and I've also packed a Actimel which is supposed to give you some healthy bacteria or something. As long as it's not the cooties ;)

Thursday 10 January 2008

Bento #003

A quick stir-fry this time...

The upper tier consists of half a kiwi, some clementine and a Babybel cheddar cheese.

Lower tier has a quick stirfry made with beef, onion, garlic, red and yellow pepper, shiitake mushrooms, chili and flavoured with lemon soy sauce and some pepper. To partner this I made some normal sushi rice.

The strange treat is a bit of a mystery but I believe it might be fried chicken liver.

Update: Yes, it seems to have been chicken liver. Tasty though.

Monday 7 January 2008

Bento #002

Time for some different stuff..

Upper tier: Crinkle cut (using my new mandolin) cucumber, a 'soy infused' egg and half a kiwi.

Lower tier: Boiled rice sprinkled with 'marimya' gomashio bin and fried mince.

The fried mince is basically a dry "Bolognese" with chopped onion, chopped pepper and thinly sliced garlic. Fry that together and season with soy sauce and whatever takes your fancy. Since it's quite dry it doesn't make the rice soggy in the Bento box.

Sunday 6 January 2008

Bento number one for 2008

Well, I'm back and it's time to start with my Bento's again...

Tomorrows offering will consist of the following...

Upper tier: Kiwi, Clementine, Baby Plum Tomatoes and a Babybel Cheese

Lower tier: Fried chicken breast that has been marinated in garlic and chili. Rice rolls that has nori around them and are sprinkled with some Nozawana Furikake "Hokoyo" Rice Seasoning.