Monday, November 30, 2009

F-odd: Genghis Khan - a sweetie?

A good friend of mine went to Hokkaido and she got the boy a little present.

Genghis Khan may not have been a sweetie but he is now a sweet.

That's right, Genghis Khan Caramel, an "Hokkaido Original", it would seem. Only in Japan indeed.

I gave it blind to the boy, who chewed it thoughtfully and said that it was "earthy... and weirdly meaty with some sweetness? Not unpleasant but definitely not something I would crave."

The friend who gave it to me was so intrigued by the taste, she kept trying them until she finished the whole packet!

I cannot understand this. I put it in my mouth and chewed for a while. First of all, it was quite milky, then for some reason, I tasted very sweet, icky garlicky type marinade, if that makes sense. It was awful. So bad I had to spit it out, dig out a little piece from my teeth and dry heave. Then brush my teeth. I really could not swallow it.

Unsurprisingly besides 2 pieces missing, I still have the whole packet! Anyone want to try one? Let me know and I'll mail you one!

I think you listen carefully, you will hear someone turning over violently in his grave....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh the shame...

Its been shameful the way I've been avoiding blogging....

Shameful because I know I've been so sporadic and unregular.

And its not that I don't have anything to say, nor eat, nor blog about but simply because of bad time management and the issue of having my little one going on hunger strike. Talk about a blow to my heart! I tell you that strong willed baby is going to have to get with the eating system soon. Baby cannot subsist on cream cheese and Cheerios alone.

So next post will be a food one, I promise... candy to be specific... a unique taste sensation indeed... Genghis Khan Caramel anyone??

New Year's resolution begins NOW!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To improve on perfection

is to add the last bit of cream cheese from the tub into your Marmite spaghetti.

Do NOT hold back on the black pepper.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Yooo hooooooo

Anyone out there?

I'm not surprised if there's no one reading my blog anymore after my long absences. For anyone who still is, you'll be in for a surprise, a baking project worked!!!

Yes, I had a semi-successful baking project! Mark this on your calendars as it may never happen again!

Oh, it was biscotti. Yup, that hard Italian biscuit that goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee at about 11am or 3pm.

I mentioned it casually to my visiting friend and being the very focused person she is (and therefore extremely successful), nagged me about it until one evening after the little had finally gone to sleep, I quickly put it together following this recipe. I omitted (simply because I can NOT follow a recipe... and I didn't have it), the anise extract and the Amaretto. I added sour cherries, chopped dark chocolate and my slightly too roasty almonds.


Timing wise, it was true to the recipe. Taste wise I think they could have benefited from the Amaretto but otherwise, they were easy to make, came out nearly perfect and were a joy to eat with tea.

Also, the mere fact that I made them myself and didn't ruin them made them taste all the sweeter.

I promise, there are more posts coming!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spaghetti a la Marmite

Reading Nigella's interview regarding food heroes in this month's Observer Monthly where she lauded Anna Del Conte, I came across the most appealing recipe. A recipe which, in fact, which is made for me. Easy peasy and as easy as ramen, it is touted as a children's recipe. Spaghetti with Marmite!

The recipe is posted verbatim here:

350-380g dried spaghetti
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp Marmite

freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water. Mix thoroughly to dissolve, then pour over the drained spaghetti. Serve with plenty of grated parmesan cheese.

So of course I made it the first chance I got but being me and therefore lazy, I omitted the bit where the butter and Marmite is melted together, instead, I bunged it all together after draining the pasta in a hot pan and generously sprinkled cheese all over as well as white pepper. Delish and the ultimate in comfort food.

About the Marmite I used... I had an unopened jar of Guiness Marmite which Umami had kindly given me ages and ages ago. Although it had clearly passed its best before, being unopened, I have no qualms eating it. Its so salty that I would highly doubt something bad had happened to it. Not that I advise other people to do the same but I'm familiar with my tummy (too familiar...) to know what abuse it can take. Now to sit back, relax, eat my Marmite Spag and wait for the cries of EWWWW to pour in...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fool proof pasta?

A kind friend sent me an Imperia pasta machine for my birthday.

If ever I find the time, I'd love to try it out.

Anyone have a fool-proof recipe and method for me to try out?

I have a bolognese sauce Susan sent me, just need the pasta.

It really needs to be fool-proof as I'm the biggest fool I know.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Birthday Cake

Birthdays should always be celebrated by cake. Something about a birthday with no cake strikes me as a bit sad. Whether it is some store bought thing stuffed full of faux ingredients and sugar or something a bit more refined and decadent, a birthday just isn't a birthday without a cake to cut.

So, having missed out last year, I needed to get one this year and so I thought I would bake one myself.

I know.

Yes, I KNOW!!!

My experiences with baking have been.... challenging to say the (very) least.

But I had no choice. It was either buying one for myself or baking one and I thought baking one sounded a bit less sad!

Chocolate cake being my favorite, I thought I'd try the Black Magic Cake.

So while the babe was having her nap, I got the ingredients out and had the dry ingredients all mixed when she woke up with a vengeance. Crying babe in arm, I quickly threw in the wet ingredients and turned on the mixer much to her distress. I couldn't stop, my chocolate cake was at stake! I undermixed it but had to stop before the wee one went into turbo mode. Slopped the results into two pans and baked for requisite time.

Out came these slightly unevenly lumped cakes.

I debated for the rest of the afternoon regarding how exactly to put the cake together. Was it to be store bought icing or was I going to actually attempt to make some kind of frosting? I wasn't sure due to the whiny nature of the babe.

Finally I found a recipe for which I had all of the ingredients at hand, this chocolate buttercream frosting. So to more tears and screams, I whipped it up. Sadly, I was a bit too free handed with the milk so it was a bit.... melty.

Put together, it looked like... well to be frank, it looked like a big turd.

Thankfully it tasted ok if a bit too moist but then again, I never believe fudginess to be a bad thing.

The stars must have been all aligned beautifully so my turd cake would turn out edible.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I hate it when...

... you order a burger and pay extra for mushrooms but when your burger comes, there's just one sad little mushroom sitting in the middle.

I'm looking at you, Giraffe.

But then I got to thinking, would it have been less insulting if they had sliced up the mushroom and spread it around a bit, making me think I had gotten more than one mushroom?

All I know is I'm not paying for mushrooms anymore.

Credit where credit is due, when I complained, the waitress promptly took it to the kitchen where there was a small row but she returned triumphantly with three mushrooms.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Battle of the Crisps

Even though the votes are now closed and the winners announced, I thought I'd still post my late, very, very late review... at 5am. Ah, such is the life (or lack thereof) with a newborn.

In a blind taste test with the boy, we put a few crisps from each flavor in identical glass bowls and tried to identify them based on smell/taste. We're happy to say that we were able to identify ALL of them based on taste, which goes some way to show that Walkers did try very hard indeed to get the flavors spot on. Like a geek, I made notes so I can accurately transcribe how the test went (edited to make it more family friendly, I am not the most, um... fine, I have a potty mouth and yes, I kiss my mother with it).

Me: Ur, no question, this is Chili Chocolate. Ick.

Boy: Yup, it's Chili Chocolate alright... (takes a small handful and shoves in mouth barbarically) with a spicy aftertaste.

Me: No more for me, tastes greasy and like a chocolate air freshener with a bad spicy aftertaste... kind of like a burp after eating spicy Korean food.

Boy: No, wouldn't buy this.

Me: This is odd... definitely Fish and Chips, can taste the salt and vinegar... the slight fishiness is very off putting.

Boy: (Munches on a handful rather than the dainty single chip I had) It has a lemony much though. A bit like scampi crisps but with a lemon zestyness. Wouldn't buy it again though.

Me: Definitely not. Ok, I have to stop you for a minute, what's up with the handfuls? It looks so caveman-esque. Eat one chip at a time like a normal person!!

Boy: What are you talking about?? This is normal! This is JUNK food, you're supposed to be indulgent and shove handfuls at a time in your mouth, what do you think this is? Fingers sandwiches and tea? How else are you supposed to get a good MUNCH?

Me: A MUNCH? What the hell? It's a CHIP!!! A single one munches fine and is the way to eat chips, eating a handful just looks greedy and rude!

Boy: Can we get on with it? (shoves an annoying handful of the next flavor into his mouth) Oooh, this is definitely the squirrel one.

Me (sulkily): CAJUN squirrel. It's very woodsy.

Boy: I'd buy this again (shoves ANOTHER handful). Smells like camping.

Me after a dramatic sigh: It has some woody paprika flavors. I'm not sure I'd buy this again. Its very squirrelly.

Boy: Squirrelly?

Me: Yes... a bit gamey like. Develops flavor as you eat.... (I have a few more... ONE at a time). I like the woodyness but it gets a bit much after a while.

Boy: Oh, you won't like this next one.

Me: Is it the Onion Bhaji? I don't like Onion Bhaji as it is....

Boy: I'd buy this one again as well.

Me: This is gross!!! It's like a burp after a bad Onion Bhaji! Ewwww, I need something to wash out my mouth. You CANNOT kiss me after eating this... same rules that applies to when you eat Onion Bhaji or have a lot to drink. Stay away!

Boy: This is so romantic...

Me: Moving on... OH! This is interesting!

Boy: Good hearty munch...smells like those bacon crisps you can buy.

Me: I like this... very interesting and tastes like it sounds. Builder's Breakfast, I get a hit of bacon and then develops into eggyness.

Boy: Could do with more bacon flavor.

Me: You think everything can do with more bacon flavor.

Boy: Your point being?

Me: This is interesting, I quite like this! Couldn't eat much of it though. The eggyness would get to me.

Boy: I'm not sure I'd buy this to eat regularly but would be fun to buy for others to try.

Me: This next one is interesting as well.

Boy: Papery munch. Smells like hoisin. I like it, its pretty good!

Me: I get cucumber and then the duck with an aftertaste of hoisin.

Boy: Well no mistaking the Crispy Duck and Hoisin flavor. Tastes a bit like paper though.

Me: Might be the pancake wrapper for the duck they are trying to emulate? It's interesting but I wouldn't buy it again.

So in conclusion, it was really good fun actually! I am very impressed at Walker's ability and reach to make such odd/interesting flavors and on the whole, I think they did a good job. It might all be a marketing ploy but it's a good one and I'm impressed at the effort they went to. They are priced the same as their regular flavored crisps (which is cheap as chips anyways... har dee har har). The only niggling complaint I have is that you can only buy a pack of six with 2 of three flavors rather than a packet with one of each of the flavors, which I think would be more appealing as you can road test them all.

Finally, as you may or may not know, Builder's Breakfast won and will be a staple on the shelves. I would recommend trying it as it's a fun flavor.

One last question: do you eat your chips by the single or your crisps by the handful??

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Posh Ices

I know that ice cream trolleys are the harbingers of summer but as I walked down Sloane Avenue (on my way home, can't afford to shop there), I passed by Hermes, which had an ice cream trolley decorated with ties outside. I can't imagine it was just some random man selling ice creams as Hermes doesn't seem the type to allow that without careful vetting! Then, a bit further down, at the Anya Hindmarch store, they had a pop up ice cream parlour!

What is going on? Sweets for the children of the posh customers? A gimmick to get people in the stores? A marketing scheme for the luxury brands?

Most importantly, does anyone have any clue if the ice creams are any good?

Monday, April 06, 2009

GIANT Cheetos!!

I just found out they have GIANT Cheetos in the States. Not only that but Flaming Hot GIANT Cheetos.

Here's a review.

My kingdom for a bag of those.....

Cajun Squirrel Crisps we have but no Cheetos, are they kidding me??

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Crack Biscuit

This post is NOT about MTV's Pimp My Ride's Xzibit, whom the boy insists on calling 'Cross Biscuit', but about a new discovery of a biscuit (or cookie, if you will), which is so delicious, it's like crack.

McVitie's Caramel Digestives.

A digestive biscuit, covered with a thin chewy layer of caramel and then with a topping of milk chocolate. The only way to make this better is to change the milk to dark chocolate.

A quick dip in hot tea and it's melty chocolate, slightly chewy caramel and nutty biscuit. I'm ashamed to say I finished almost half a packet with one cup of tea. Crack biscuit indeed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New discoveries

A few things I am liking at the moment:

Heston's Feasts, particularly the Victorian one. The voice over is very annoying and badly edited but still heaps of fun. I need to book dinner at the Fat Duck....

'Quick, where are the grissini?' - although I'm not that familiar with the English class system and its stereotypes, the comments made me laugh, particularly the ginger one!

What have you read/seen lately that's been fun?

Hang tight, the boy and I had a blind taste test of the new Walker's crisps flavors and results coming up soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick and Easy

Since the wee babe, I haven't had much time to cook. Happily the boy makes a mean bolognese with Quorn...faux meat crumbles may sound bad to you but I like the toothsomeness of the faux meat product and the lack of greasiness. Besides which, he also made a lasagna from scratch for the first time and it was good. However, due to his late working evenings, I try to prepare a few things in between feedings, changings and crying fits.

This week I've managed four meals. If I can prep these in 10 mins and have them come out well, you can too!

Two meals came courtesy of Umami, her Baked Beans on Pork on rice, which has quickly become a good fall back meal, and the delicious roast pork belly 'siu yok' which I served with fried rice and steamed french beans.

The third was from Garlic and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Crispy Dripping Croutons from the NY Times. Although I followed the recipe closely (and you all know how rare it is I actually do that, the bread turned out completely burnt and the two pieces that turned out tasted like fried bread, both greasy and dry. The chicken was ok but I prefer my own recipe.

The last meal was beans yet again. The chicken carcass and remnants of the ingredients used to make a stock in which beans were simmered along with bits of leftover pork and flavored with thyme and white pepper.

Yay for quick and easy meals!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I loved recess! Besides being a chance for a break amongst the boringness of elementary school, it was a chance run around with my friends. Most of all, however, it was when you got to see the contents of the snacks inside my friend's lunchboxes and see what you could trade. Chocolate went for more than candy bars and chips (or crisps) for more than chocolate. Biscuits were quite low on the trading scale, except for chocolate based ones of course and rice crispy treats, while tasty, were far too common to have much value.

All this to say that I'm taking a tiny "recess" from the blog. I have just had a little premature baby and am concentrating all my energies into eating (I love it when other people cook for me, yay!) and feeding (she's not doing so well, big, big, big, boo!).

So in the meantime, take a little recess yourself and trade yourself a nice snack... or two or three...

In the Terminator's famous (not last) words, "I vill be back!"

Monday, January 19, 2009


What is it with the Brits and their crisps??

By the way, that's chips to the rest of us

I mean I love crisps/chips as much as the next, ok, maybe a bit more given my love of ketchup chips and Cheetos, but seriously, the Brits seem to be a bit obsessive.

Strolling through my local Sainsbury's, there are thousands of choices of different kinds of crisps and all sorts of flavors ranging from pickled onion (please do NOT eat if you plan to talk to anyone that day as your breath will smell of onions and your fingers of pickles) to roast chicken.

Whatever happened to my good old standbys of sour cream and chive, BBQ, all dressed, ranch, etc.? Well here in the good ole United Kingdom, they are inventive, I have to give them that. So much so that they have "seasonal crisps".

My case in point:

I mean, really.

Ham and Mustard?


Turkey and Stuffing?

Is this what da peeps want?

Well, for youse alls sake, I tried them.

Ploughman's was quite mild and tasted mostly of pickle but not too sour.
Ham and Mustard did taste quite true to its name oddly enough.
Turkey and Stuffing tasted like chicken spice... the boy thinks it tastes just like the roast chicken flavor.

But wait, it doesn't stop here. Apparently the next wave of crisp flavors to arrive in store shelves near me are:

  • Cajun Squirrel
  • Fish and Chips
  • Builder's Breakfast
  • Onion Bhaji
  • Crispy Duck and Hoisin
  • Chilli Chocolate

I'm a bit scared to be honest but if I see them, I shall do my duty and report back...

You can also vote for the flavor you want most to remain on the shelves by the 1st of May on the Walker's site.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Duck who ate the Chicken who ate the Partridge

I know this is 3 weeks late but some may still be curious about what became of my three bird roast.

Well, happy to report that my cooking skills are just a smidgen better than my disastrous baking ones.

On Christmas Eve, I served up roast pork, much to the delight of my brother, who was thrilled with the crispy crackling and the moist meat. He was even more happy when he heard that it was to be accompanied by braised red cabbage, a favorite vegetable of ours.

Christmas Day, however, was a bit less easy. I sent the boy down to our wonderful local butcher, Wyndham Butchers, to pick up my order of 3 bird roast. Meanwhile, I peeled and cut carrots, parsnips and sprouts.

We ended up with a 5.5kg bundle of joy... meaty joy, that is! I was told to roast for approximately 2.5-3 hours and rest for 30 minutes. I went for the 3 hours as I was told that there was enough fat within it to self baste and carried on with the prep for the rest of the meal. Of course, I couldn't resist sprinkling a layer of Schwartz's poultry spices as it seemed oh so naked without anything.

The meat turned out perfect. Moist, delicious and a joy to eat, all five of us had two pieces left and there was 2 pieces left for leftovers so a perfect portion. It was duck on the outside, sausage meat between that and the chicken (which I found a bit 'spongy' but acceptable) and then the dark meat of the partridge. I would definitely make this again for a special occasion, especially as it was easy and different. Much more interesting than a single bird as the different tastes and textures were there.

Sadly the rest of the meal I was responsible for didn't turn out so good. The carrots and parsnips were soft and overcooked, the brussel sprouts bitter and the stuffing, to which I admit I cheated a bit and used a boxed stuffing to which I added onions, chestnuts and bacon to, horribly over salted. The boy's mustard mash and parsnip, chestnut and potato mash were wonderful though, the former nice and tangy and the latter earthy and just slightly sweet.

In any case, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn't mind doing it all over again. Minus all the cleaning, scrubbing and prep involved of course!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I freaking give up.

....on baking.

Today, last minute since I had workmen come in to *finally* fix our leak and I was asked to bring dessert, I thought I'd make brownies from scratch. From Jamie Oliver's book, Cook, which I got for Christmas.

Since I had only enough ingredients for one shot, I checked everything.

I used a scale to measure out my ingredients (a first for me).

I pre-heated the oven to the correct temperature and even used an oven thermometer and checked.

I didn't replace, omit or change a single thing from the recipe.

I checked the pan half way through and cooked to the precise time indicated.

And what happened?

The brownies were supposed to be gooey inside.

Mine were so dry it crumbled off the side and was almost liquidy raw inside.


I freaking give up.

Now that the workmen have left, I have to rush down to the Marks and Spencer's to pick up dessert now.

I am cursed I tell you, CURSED!!!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Sorry I've been away for a while but it's been busy busy busy over here!

Happily the big meal turned out ok with a few minor issues and things generally went well. I'll do a longer post on my 3 bird roast soon, I promise!

For the time being, anyone fancy Cajun Squirrel chips/crisps???