Thursday 20 November 2008

Lots of posts in the pipeline...

I got lots of posts in the pipeline. Or rather, I got lots of photos ready and I just need to get the texts/recipes together for them.

I'll try to be a good boy tonight and get it all sorted so there will be a long list of new posts waiting to get published.

In the meantime I'll leave you with a book recommendation. I won't say too much about it, I'll let you form your own opinion. The author is Cory Doctorow and the title is Little Brother. UK Amazon Link and US Amazon Link.

Buy it. Read it. Reflect on it.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Quick review - Thai Orchid in Abingdon

You know how it is, you decide to go out for dinner and you haven't really planned where you want to go or what you want to eat.

Normally you spend some time walking around and looking at the menus for some different places, gazing in to see how much people there are, if it looks nice and so on.

Quite often you tend to go for something familiar, a chain of some sort or some place you've been to before.

But then there's the other times. Those rare times when you say damn those torpedoes, full spead ahead! You throw caution to the wind and go for it.

This time we decided to try the Thai Orchid here in Abingdon. It has a very subdued entrance, just a narrow staircase up to first floor. But as you walk up those stairs you notice that the walls have been covered in expensive exotic wood.

Once you've reached the restaurant itself you realise that the entire place is wood panelled and the furnishings is very authentic.

I hadn't planned on blogging this little visit so I didn't bring my camera and I didn't note down the name of the dishes. Bad Mikey :(

We did share the mixed starter and that was spot on. The spring rolls for example was nice and crisp. Not soggy and boring as you get them at most places.

You can't really fail with sticky rice, which they didn't and my main dish was nice and spicy.

I'll go back soon to make a proper review for the blog. Hoping that this wasn't a one off performance from their side.

If you are in or around Abingdon and in the need of a good Thai Meal - go and check out the Thai Orchid. I wasn't disappointed and I dare say that I don't think you will be either.

Oh yeah, their Singha was nice and cold. Another big bonus!

Thursday 13 November 2008

Quick emergency lunch

Wasabi salmon doesn't really taste good the day after so I didn't have any leftovers to reheat for lunch.

The option of eating in our canteen here at work is about as appealing as having my eyes pierced with needles at the same time as my ballsack is being lowered into a vat of battery acid.

You doubt me? Let's just say that the guys in our canteen are so ignorant that they put garlic bread in the column for 'Vegetable of the day' on the menu. I shit thee not!

Enough ranting about them and back to the improvised lunch....

I had some boiled new potatoes left over from the salmon meal so I sliced those up. After making a quick inventory of the fridge I found some hotdogs which I also sliced up and then I chopped an onion. All of that went into a frying pan together with some seasoning until nicely cooked.

I transferred that to a plate and then quickly fried a couple of eggs which I popped on top of it all.

Easy, filling and best of all - I didn't have to give away my hard earned cash to the catering company that runs our canteen. ;)

The post today will be a bit delayed...

Got tired yesterday and at work now. Will post later. ;)

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Recipe - Wasabi Salmon

After yesterdays failure I needed to get back to safe ground again. Something that I possibly couldn't screw up. Time to hit a safe card, Wasabi Salmon.

This works as a simple weeknight dinner but you could serve it at a dinner party too.

As always, freestyle the proportions of wasabi and mayo to suit you and your preferences.

Salmon fillets, skin on
Wasabi paste

Heat the oven to 225c.

In the meantime mix wasabi and mayonnaise until you got the right amount of kick. Season the salmon. Spread a thick layer of the mix on each salmon fillet.

Put the fillets in the oven until the wasabi/mayo mix starts to change colour with some brown/black spots. This normally takes about 10 minutes.

Serve with new potatoes, rice, noodles or whatever takes your fancy.


Tuesday 11 November 2008

Mondays suck and all I wanted was some easy food...

Mondays normally aren't very good and today has been one of the bad ones. I think that holidays in my team should be needs based from now on. Based on my needs and not the needs of my minions. ;)

For once I couldn't even think of anything to cook, all I could think of was to get home and spend the better part of the evening in my World Domination Chair.

As always I needed something to eat, but what? Thankfully the Chinese restaurant downstairs is closed on Mondays so I couldn't fall for that easy temptation. Since I don't have a doorbell it's too much peering out of the balcony doors involved if I want to order from Domino's.

In the end I came up with a sort of a compromise. Something to eat that didn't take too much effort. I figured that a baked Camembert with some vegetables to dip in it would be ace.

As you can see from the picture things didn't go to plan. The bloody box decided to burst and the cheesy goodness leaked out instead of staying nicely inside the rind.

The rest of the evening was spent in my World Domination Chair plotting revenge on the stupid cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys that make Lanquetot Camembert. Well, not really. But I wasn't happy.

Mr Waitrose, can I have my money back for that cheese in a crap box please?

Monday 10 November 2008

Recipe - Sausage Chilli

Another cold and rainy Sunday here in the UK...

I couldn't really decide what to cook today. My choice being a bit limited by the fact that I was on call today and the local Waitrose has severe problems with the GSM coverage. Something that means that I can't really go shopping for food. :(

In the end I ended up with something spicy but comforting. You can make this as spicy as you want. If you have wussy guests you can always have a tub of creme fraiche for them to stir into the chilli to calm it down a bit.

Ingredients (serves 4 or so)
2 packets of good quality pork sausages (about 800 - 1000g)
Olive oil
1 small can of pineapple rings, cut the rings into eights and preserve the juice
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 onions, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
2 dried chipotles, rehydratred and chopped
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp chili powder
1 - 2 tsp smoked paprika
2 - 3 good handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped

To serve
Grated cheese
1 onion, diced
Boiled rice
Creme fraiche (optional)
Heat the oil in a high walled frying pan on medium heat. Fry the sausages in batches until golden. Take them off the heat and put to the side.

Add the pineapple, onion, peppers and the celery to the frying pan and fry for about 5 minutes. In the meantime cut each sausage into three pieces and pour in water with the pineapple juice to make up 500ml. Add the tomatoes, pineapple juice, chipotles, sugar and spices and give it all a good stir.

Add in the sausage pieces and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it simmer for 50 - 60 minutes.

Stir in the chopped coriander, keeping some back for serving.

Serve with rice, chopped onion, grated cheese and chopped coriander.


Sunday 9 November 2008

Recipe - Cabbage-arole

I have no idea what this is supposed to be called in English so I invented the name Cabbage-arole, and you'll have to live with that ;)

This is a dish I ate quite often whilst growing up in Sweden. It's called kålpudding in Swedish but I don't think that makes a very catchy name for my non-Swedish speaking readers. ;)

It might sound a bit odd and strange but it's a really nice dish. Give it a go.

It's traditional to serve it with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes. I didn't have any lingonberry jam and have been having quite a bit of mash recently. I went for Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and spicy potato wedges instead. Something that worked well too.

Oh yeah, one minor point. This dish has been known to generate a certain amount of, ahem, wind...

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 head of white cabbage (about 1kg should do it)
500g mince
1 egg
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 225c.

Remove the outer leafs from the cabbage. Core and cut the cabbage into about 2cm x 2cm pieces.

Put the cabbage into a pan and cover with water, add liberal amounts of salt. Bring this to the boil and let it boil for a minute or so. Reserve about 100 ml of the cooking fluid. Drain the cabbage.

Heat some olive oil and a good knob of butter in a frying pan. Fry the cabbage for about three minutes. Remove from the heat. Put about 300ml of cabbage to the side.

Stir in the mince (yes, you don't have to pre-cook it), the reserved cooking fluid, egg and some more salt and quite a bit of pepper. Mix properly. Pour the mixture into a 2l oven safe casserole dish.

Pop into the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes.

Once it's done to your liking remove from the oven and spread with the cabbage you put to the side earlier.

Serve with a side of your liking, mashed potatoes for example.


Saturday 8 November 2008

Taco / Chilli Bowl

This is just an idea of how you can serve your spicy mince or chilli.

Just heat your oven to about 200c. Drape corn (I've found them to work better than flour) tortillas over upside down bowls. Just make sure that the bowls can stand the heat. Put it all on a baking tray and chuck it all into the oven. Let them stay in there until the tortillas start to colour up and turn stiff.

You can actually serve quite 'wet' chillies in these but I wouldn't recommend serving soup in them.

As I said, just an idea that you might want to try...

Friday 7 November 2008

Recipe - Lamb Curry

To be honest, I'm not sure whether this should be called a curry or a tagine. Use whatever description you want it tasted damned good and I'm sure it doesn't really care what you call it.

Some people might be scared by the term curry and will be expecting something that will blow your socks off and clear your sinuses in one fell swoop. Not this curry, it's very mild but has lots of flavour.

I served it with couscous but you could just as well serve it with rice.

Ingredients (serves 4)
400g lamb leg steaks, diced
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced (or more if you like your garlic)
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
A pinch or two of cinnamon
1can/400g chopped tomatoes
200 ml chicken stock
100g pitted prunes, chopped
1 tbsp ground almond
A good handful or two of chopped fresh coriander
Olive oil

Brown the lamb in a frying pan on a medium heat. Once nicely browned, put to the side. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes.

Add the coriander (not the fresh one), cumin, ginger and cinnamon and stir properly. Let this fry for another couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock and prunes.

Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 40 - 45 minutes.

Stir in the fresh coriander and the ground almonds.


Thursday 6 November 2008

Hotdogs and sweet potato fries

I was dead tired when I got home so I really couldn't be bothered with anything special.

Hotdogs, topped with cheese, chopped onion and Frank's RedHot Sauce served with oven baked sweet potato fries. Simple and filling, although not necessarily haute cuisine ;)

You will hopefully know how to cook hotdogs, the sweet potato fries is almost as easy... Heat the oven to 220c. Wash the sweet potatoes and remove any blemishes you don't want to eat. Slice them into chunky fries. Pop them into a big bowl, pour over some olive oil and chuck on some flaky salt and mixed dried herbs. Mix well.

Put them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until done to your liking. Rotate the baking sheet with even intervals to make sure they cook evenly.


Wednesday 5 November 2008

Recipe - Sweet Potato and Red Pepper soup

The weather here is dreary, I'm still waiting for my new toy to be delivered and I've been told that I'm not allowed to open my Christmas presents until it's actually Christmas. The situation is bad.

So what to do? A nice and hearty soup is something that is quite good at cheering me up. It's even better if it's quick and easy to cook.

This one did the job very well. As you can see I served it with some bread rolls but you could serve it with some garlic bread if you rather want to have some extra crunch.

Ingredients (makes about 2 - 3 servings)
Olive oil
A decently sized knob of butter
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into slices
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
700 ml vegetable stock
110 ml double cream

Heat the oil and butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the potato, pepper and onion. Let this sweat for about 4 - 6 minutes, until it starts to soften. Stir in the cumin seeds and let them fry for a minute or so.

Add the stock and bring it to the boil. Once it's boiling turn the heat down and keep it simmering for about 10 minutes.

Either pour it into a blender or use a stick blender and blitz until smooth. Add the cream and give it another good blitz. Put back onto heat and let it warm through, season to taste.


Tuesday 4 November 2008

Lazy Sunday Brunch Hash

This is yet another one of my really lazy recipes. You take what you have, fry for a bit and then you eat. Simple, filling and tasty. Just what you want for a lazy Sunday brunch.

In this case take some sliced potatoes, you can use leftover boiled or roasted ones, and parboil them quickly. Pop them into a pan with some oil on medium heat. If you want the potatoes to be a bit crunchy you can always add some bread crumbs. Chuck in some sliced onion and diced chorizo. Season to your liking. Fry until it's all golden, crispy and tasty.


Monday 3 November 2008

Problems uploading pictures...

I'm having problems uploading pictures at the moment. Once I've figured out where there problem lies I'll post the next update.

// Mike