Archive | June, 2013

In Bruges

27 Jun

What else could I entitle this post? Have you seen the film!?

This is in the film right?

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You should see the film.

But we saw him in real life!!! :3 He was very cute and very lovely, of course. A nice man took us to see him on a boat πŸ˜›

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Cos’ canals are quite prolific in those parts.

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But here’s an interesting fact for you: there’s only 5 boat owners in the whole of Bruges, and they are only allowed 4 boats each! I’d say that was a good rule – preventing canal blockage and all that…

So basically, we went to Bruges and it was delightful πŸ™‚

We ate a lot of food, but of course we ate that before we took pictures of it… For your imagination they included waffles with butter and sugar; steak tartare! (of all things!); rabbit cooked in beer sauce (yum! plus, rabbit is on like, EVERY menu around! Why are we English so anti-rabbit-eating?); banana split (not particularly Belgian but hey – bananas and ice cream are nice partners); raspberry beer and dark chocolate covered oranges… The eating was good.

Here are the non-food-related pictures that I’d like to share with you anyhow πŸ™‚

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Stunning buildings wherever you look. The city is steeped in history and this is obvious from the inscriptions on a lot of the buildings – many of which were built in the 1600s!

They have 21 museums! If I recall correctly… Something like 16 public and 5 private?

We went to the Salvador Dali one. It was disturbing, to say the least. Does anyone else think it’s odd that the work he’s most famous for isn’t his insane rudey works? Because if you saw a collection of what he’s done you’d be like ‘Woah, like 10% of his stuff isn’t creepy and erotic, but that minority percentage is the stuff I’ve always liked him for!’ Well, you might not. Personally I’m a slight bit prudish and the likes of this were a bit much for me.

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Sorry guys, I didn’t even know whether to include that one, haha. But it’s art right? And children were allowed in so…

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Give me a spindly-legged elephant any day. They had miniature ones of these for sale and I SO would have loved one if they weren’t 63 euros :/

Cos’ the city is kind of expensive! But the produce they have available just oozes quality.

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This is soap! Mmhmm πŸ™‚

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And of course the range of chocolate and other confectionery was fairly mind-blowing. I wish we got more pictures of that…

Another interesting discovery was that apparently, it is always Christmas in Bruges. Honestly, I really wish that we’d got pictures of the shop completely decked out in wreaths, full of toy soldiers and snow globes, but all I have to offer you in terms of proof is this:

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You don’t have to tell me this is awful and tasteless, haha. Blame the love. He found it ‘funny’.

We both found this funny:

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Sand-wishes :’) how cute! Cannibal toast!

I will leave you on that note. Goodbye! πŸ™‚

Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Nuoc Cham

18 Jun

Negligence is becoming my middle name.

I am honestly starting to believe that my list of things to do would make anyone stop in their tracks and blink, dazedly. Even the person who is convinced they are the worst procrastinator in the world! I’m worse than that!!! I’m sure if I wrote it all out, it would cover miles of land… I’m picturing one of those enormous scrolls in cartoons that start out looking normal and average-sized, but with a shake of the wrist that unravels the lot… it is clearly formidable to the point of unrealistic goal-setting.

My excuses to avoid getting on with important things recently:

  • My birthday! πŸ˜€

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  • The love’s birthday, and hisΒ mom’s

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  • Dog-sitting

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Me and this bundle of beautiful have totally bonded. I want one of her.

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He, on the other hand, is like a little old man. Adorable though.

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And hilarious.

  • The BBC Good Food Show/Gardener’s World!

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(Haha :D)

  • Symphony Hall

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  • Misc.

Especially the last one. Gosh how that takes up my time!

Included in the ‘misc’ category is Pinterest. Damn you Pinterest I never thought I’d get drawn in! I am weak when it comes to websites laden with beautiful images and ideas… Pinterest is where I found this incredible recipe πŸ™‚

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Which is actually one of those things I would happily have gotten round to earlier, only I couldn’t find black sesame seeds in any of my local shops 😦 and they make the finished dish look so pretty! Don’t you think? Luckily The Good Food Show was just around the corner and of course it didn’t let me down πŸ˜€ Thanks BBC Good Food! (Hire me!) ((Jokes, so not qualified)). You could of course buy some online.

Still, I made it a couple of days ago and I guess it taught me a lesson about striking while the iron is hot when another blogger I follow wrote about the same recipe this morning!!! Now that’s a bit frustrating when I had it all planned.

Oh, what’s that? Your now desperate to follow me on both Tumblr AND Pinterest!? Awesome! Don’t be shy, there’s links to both on the right hand side of my WordPress πŸ˜› just in case you can’t find them I’ve totally helped you out by adding the links above too πŸ˜€

Anyhow, here’s my version:

Serves 2.

  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs (panko would be best)
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • oil for frying

For the Nuoc Cham:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 fiery chillies (Thai if you can find them), de-seeded (if preferred) and thinly sliced

To Serve:

  • Chopped mixed vegetables (I used spring onions, carrot, sweet red pepper and mushrooms)
  • Noodles or rice
  1. First you need to drain your tofu in whichever way you like to do so. I place mine between 2 chopping boards in the sink and balance something heavy on the top. I would recommend you do this at least an hour before you plan to start cooking.
  2. At least half an hour before planning to eat, make the nuoc cham so the flavours have enough time to become well acquainted. Simply whisk all of the ingredients together and taste. It should be salty (but not too salty), full of interesting flavours, and with subtly ensuing heat from the chillies. The finer you chop the garlic and the chillies, the stronger tasting these aspects of the finished sauce will be.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tsp water. In a larger bowl, mix the sesame seeds and bread crumbs with the salt.
  4. Slice the (now much firmer) tofu. I like mine to be in chunky cubes – you decide how you like yours and adjust cooking times accordingly. One at a time, dip each piece of tofu into the egg. Scrape off any excess, then roll it around in the bread crumb mixture. Put to one side while you finish the others.
  5. Heat some oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and fry the tofu pieces for about 2 minutes on each side (if following my lead with chunky cubes). Serve with the nuoc cham, veggies and carbs of your choosing πŸ™‚

The nuoc cham is, I think, meant to be used as a dipping sauce, but – tell me if it’s just me – I don’t have the patience for this at dinner time. At dinner time, I’m hungry and I want a bowl full of food. So I used it as a pouring sauce πŸ™‚ make sure you distribute it evenly though if you do it this way, to avoid pungency overload on top and blandness on the bottom.

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Unless there is tofu on the bottom – this stuff is not bland in the slightest! I just mean bland in comparison to the mouth-puckeringness of the sauce πŸ™‚ The tofu is amazingly crisp, then meltingly moreish. It is perfect and I will make it again many, many times.

And I’m just realising that I should have put a disclaimer at the start of this post: Loads of pictures! Looooong post!

Thanks for reading πŸ˜€

Bye!

Early Summer Soup with Honey Beer Bread

6 Jun

This is the first time in a while I’ve made something that has given me a sense of achievement.

I’ve done lots of cake baking for birthdays, thank you gifts and other various occasions… and they’ve been pretty successful, but A.) they weren’t my recipes and B.) I have been slacking once again at meal times! So I’ve been guilt-tripping over that one a bit…

Here I have made a beautiful, light, full of goodness vegetable soup which is easy peasy lemon squeezy. And you might even want a squeeze of lemon in it actually…

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Here is the recipe:

Serves 4 (with honey beer bread)

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 100g green beans
  • 100g asparagus tips
  • 1 tin artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring, until softened.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and vegetable stock, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  3. When the soup has been cooking for 15-20 minutes, put a pan of water on to boil and cook the green beans and asparagus for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the veg and add to the soup mixture with the chopped artichoke hearts and thyme. Cook for a minute or so then serve with bread.

It is just the perfect thing for a warm, breezy day like today when you are in the mood to celebrate the good, seasonal produce πŸ™‚

I also chucked in a few slices of courgette as we had a little to use up in the fridge. It was good! Play around with the veggies, they like it.

Now for the accompaniment!

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Oh my God.

It is the quickest, easiest, most beautiful bread I have ever made in my life, and if you were worrying about being hungry after a vegetable soup, don’t be – this bread will help you out.

It is quick because there is no need to knead (heh..) and no need to let it rise either. All you do is mix up the ingredients in a special and magical order, put it in a tin and bake! The outside becomes all biscuity thanks to the butter that is poured all over it…

Oh God.

There I go again saying His name in vain. But this bread!!! My mouth is watering and I just ate some!

Recipe uses cups as I was inspired byyyy filingawaycupcakes who I assume is from overseas πŸ™‚

And I am too lazy to convert…

Makes 1 loaf.

  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 cups beer (I used Oxford Gold organic beer)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180Β°c and fetch out a loaf tin. Pour 2 tbsp of the butter on to the bottom of the tin, then brush it all around the sides until it is nicely greased.
  2. In a (not small, not enormous) mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and give them a whirl so they all have chance to meet each other. Next, add the honey and beer, and give it a good old stir with as big old spoon. Use your hands if any of the dry stuff is stubbornly refusing to mix with the wet stuff.
  3. Place the dough into your loaf tin, and pour the remaining butter over the top. I LOVE THIS PART!!! Then bake it for approx. 50 minutes, but check on it before you take it out just to make sure it’s done.

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Ermagherd! (Which I understand is a popular phrase right now?).

It has just occurred to me that this may not be the best bread to give to children. Simply because having read this post back… you know, I can’t 100% say I haven’t been affected by the beer.

I SO hope you make this!

Bye πŸ˜€

xxxxxxx