Sunday, January 31, 2010


So you may be wondering why I'm choosing to blog about something as boring as pasta with bolognese sauce. This is because I learned something at Jamie Oliver's restaurant - bolognese tastes even more amazing with toasted breadcrumbs on top. Plus, it uses up those little crust ends of bread that I keep saving in the freezer. You dry those out in a low oven and then shove them in a blender to make a lot of breadcrumbs. I keep extras in a container in the fridge. Then, whenever you need a little crunch on top of your pasta dish, you pull them out, put them in a pan (I just toast them dry, but I'm sure you could add a little butter or olive oil if you were feeling indulgent), and once they're nice and brown, you toss them on top of your bowl of pasta. It adds a nice textural contrast. Try it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Feng Sushi

Festival Terrace

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Rd
SE1 8

We had tickets to a later showing of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour so dinner beforehand seemed appropriate. The Southbank is full of chain restaurants and we settled on Feng Sushi for something a bit lighter. A chose an inside-out salmon and avocado roll and 2 pieces of salmon nigiri, while I had the Japanese Bento Box (above) which included two pieces of veggie tempura, Nippon duck roll (no idea why they call it this because it's not duck at all, it's tofu), tuna and salmon nigiri and tuna and salmon sashimi. Prices are pretty steep for what you get, but perhaps that is the price you pay for environmentally friendly and sustainable seafood? At least it all tasted good, and the hot sake we had alongside was the perfect accompaniment. Dessert was a bowl of sweet chestnut, green tea and black sesame ice cream. I think I'd skip the chestnut and just get green tea and black sesame next time, but that's just a personal preference. At least I wasn't too full afterwards to enjoy the performance, which was a great mix of new orchestral music and playwriting (Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn make a good team).

Friday, January 29, 2010


All Star Lanes
95 Brick Lane
E1 6QL

Bowling and birthdays go together quite well, so for C's birthday we found ourselves at All Star Lanes for a dinner at the Luncheonette. The menu is all very faux-diner, but the unnecessarily complicated mains and high prices make it evident that it is nothing like an actual diner. After F asked about the boned rolled shoulder of lamb and was told that he'd be better off ordering the burger by our honest waitress, most of our table quickly went with the burger option. I still wanted to be brave and tried the fried chicken sandwich. When A's burger arrived with a single pathetically shriveled rasher of bacon on top, we were surprised enough to ask whether that was really correct and were informed that indeed, asking for bacon only gets you one tiny sliver. My sandwich contained chicken with a very odd batter (see above) - I think I was expecting either a breaded chicken piece or a crust more similar to southern fried chicken - instead it was almost doughy in spots. Wouldn't order it again. Fries were the best part, which is not exactly a raving endorsement. Essentially, you should just go to the Brick Lane Beigel Bake and grab a salt beef bagel before knocking down some pins.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fried Rice

I'm almost embarrassed to write about something as simple as fried rice, but I quite liked this version and want to remember what I did this time. Remember to use your leftover rice for this - refrigeration helps to dry out the rice a bit, making it a much better texture for fried rice. The other thing to remember is that it helps to cook each ingredient beforehand, so that when you throw it all together it happens quite quickly, over very high heat. You can substitute any other kind of protein for the pork, and also use different vegetables - fried rice is really flexible. This fed four of us quite happily for lunch - yum!

Fried Rice

450g pork shoulder, diced into small pieces

6 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup peas
1 cup sweetcorn
4 cups cooked rice, at least one day old
4 eggs, beaten

1. At least one day in advance, put pork, 3 tablespoons of sesame oil,  dark soy sauce, vinegar  and garlic into a sealable container and mix. Refrigerate and leave to marinate.

2. Heat wok over high heat and stir fry marinated pork until cooked through. Put it in a container for later use. 

3. Briefly stir fry corn and peas in wok until heated through, and pour into same container as pork.

4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in wok and scramble eggs so that it is broken up into small pieces. Add to container with pork and corn and peas.

5. Add remaining sesame oil to wok and fry the rice in it, making sure to separate the grains of rice. Once the rice is fragrant, add the pork, corn, peas and eggs to the rice and stir to combine. Add salt and/or soy sauce to taste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


As the lucky recipients of an invitation to attend T's Burns Night celebrations, A and I were able to partake in Scottish poetry, food, whisky and laughter. The centerpiece of dinner was this magnificent haggis that T obtained from a butcher. Alongside neeps and tatties and some unorthodox green beans, it was absolutely delicious and A even had seconds! It was full of oatmeal, with a lot of lovely spices and deep flavor from the offal. The most stunning sight was when T grabbed a knife during his recital of the Address to the Haggis and plunged it straight in, spilling haggis guts all over the plate. Thankfully haggis tastes much much better than it looks - I might even order this if I ever find myself in a Scottish restaurant.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thai Metro

38 Charlotte Street
London, W1T 2NN

Back to our regularly scheduled Wednesday lunches! J and I were both craving something warm and since we already tried Siam Central, we decided to try the other Thai in the area, Thai Metro. It's a very similar menu - two courses for 7.50 - and I got the fried chicken wings again for a starter, though I decided on a ginger stir fry with pork for a main rather than my usual chilli and basil dish. J had fish cakes to start and got the chilli and basil with chicken. While everything was good, there's something about this place that makes me prefer Siam Central - maybe it's the spacing of the tables or the atmosphere? I might be unfair, saying I prefer one even though the food seems about the same, but I can't change how I feel...

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Northgate

113 Southgate Road
London, N1 3JS

Time for dinner and drinks with our neighbor so the neighborhood pub seemed appropriate. The Northgate came recommended by the previous occupiers of our flat, but we still hadn't visited it for food. I was pleasantly surprised that the chalkboard menu changes every day to reflect what the chef wants to make. To start, I had the mussels in a bacon and cream sauce, and A ordered the French onion soup. Both were delicious, though I preferred my giant pile of mussels which were full of flavor and very fresh. We both had a warm salad of grilled merguez sausage, new potatoes and green beans off the starter menu as our main instead - again, all of the ingredients seemed to be high quality and we polished off every bite. My one quibble is that it is just pricey enough that I wouldn't go regularly, unless I wasn't too hungry and could make do with one starter as my meal. Starters were 5 or 6 quid, which is reasonable, but mains were mostly 14 and up, except for the veggie options at 10 quid. Still, when we want a little treat, nice to know it is close by and serves good food.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Goods Shed

Station Road West

The Goods Shed is Canterbury's farmers market, and inside is a lovely cheese stall manned by a very informative cheesemonger. After questioning him thoroughly and trying a few cheeses, A and I picked out two to bring home. The one on the left is one that is similar to a Manchego - it's called Aradoy, it's made from ewe's milk and it's from the Basque mountains. LOVED this one, I could eat masses of it. The one on the right is a crazy 18-month aged Gouda called De Wit from Woerden, The Netherlands. I think it is really intense and it is hard for me to eat without a cracker. The card described it has hard, creamy, strong, caramelly flavour - I don't get the caramel but I would agree with the rest of the adjectives.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Banana Muffins

While cleaning out the freezer, I realized I had four frozen bananas (they had gotten too ripe to eat so I had popped them in the freezer to save them for baking). Since I'm on a bit of a muffin kick right now, banana muffins were the next logical step, and I tweaked a recipe I found here to make them. As usual, I lowered the sugar content and halved the salt. I'm not a fan of bananas, but I did try a bite and it was lovely - slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and gently sweet - another winner for breakfast.


200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 medium bananas, mashed
80g granulated sugar
1 egg
75g unsalted butter, melted

Preparation method

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F degrees. Place 12 paper baking cases in muffin tin.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt; set aside.
3. Combine mashed bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix just until incorporated. Make sure not to overmix! The batter can still be lumpy.
4. Spoon evenly into baking cases in muffin tin.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly tapped.

: 12/3/10 - made these again but with only 35g of sugar and used salted butter instead of unsalted - to compensate I left out the 1/4 tsp of salt. These were still really great - I may see what happens if I just completely leave out sugar since the bananas bring some sweetness already.

Friday, January 22, 2010


55 St. Peters Street
Canterbury, CT1 2BE

In some last minute preparations for a day trip to Canterbury, I found this article by the Guardian on the top 10 cheap eats there. While we tried a few other places first, places were all full for Sunday lunch so we ended up at Marlowe's, which happens to be number one on the list. A lunch deal was on, so a main and a drink were a measly 7.95, which should have been warning enough. A did get a nice bottle of Bishop's Finger Ale, and I had some pretty grim house white wine, and then soon enough A's burger with cheese and my 1/2 roast chicken and chips arrived. Alas, the burger was dry and overcooked and the chicken was only passable. Chips were decent, I suppose, but chips alone do not make a lunch. I was hoping that, like in London, it would be possible to find a good meal under 10 quid, but even with the Guardian's list, we were woefully misled. Service was lovely though, and the waiter recommended that we visit The Goods Shed for a meal. Too bad we got that recommendation after already eating at Marlowe's. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

After making this pumpkin cheesecake, we still had about 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree left over, so I saved it for a rainy day. At last, a rainy day has come and so I looked around for a recipe for it, and happily, I found one here. I took out the raisins since I don't like them or have them in the house, and halved the salt. We ended up with muffins that are only mildly sweet and would be lovely for breakfast, or if you were feeling more decadent you could have them as dessert with some ice cream or whipped cream on the side.


1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. (50g) butter, melted
1 egg

Heat oven to 400F/205C. Grease bottoms of 12 medium muffin cups. Mix all ingredients just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Immediately remove from pan.

Makes 12 muffins.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Raj Moni

279 Upper Street

London, N1 2TZ

A was incredibly organized this week and managed to pick up four tokens from the Times, which meant we could eat out at several restaurants for 10 quid a head. After a fun bit of wine tasting at The Sampler with P, the three of us headed off to Raj Moni for some Indian food. The manager didn't seem familiar with the tokens but he offered us an incredible deal - we could each get a starter, a main, a side, pilau rice and nan. Considering that the mains alone would have cost over 10 quid each, we were quite pleased. For starters, we ordered king prawn on jay puree, onion bhajis and bengal crab cakes. The bhajis were a little greasy, but I really enjoyed the prawns and crab cakes. For mains and sides, we ordered two tandoori mixed grills and a tandoori machili massala (whole trout), saag aloo, aloo gobi and bombay potatoes. We probably should have gotten something other than bombay potatoes, as I realized when three potato-heavy dishes appeared. This was really too much food for three normal people, but we are not normal, since we finished almost all of it. Everything tasted pretty fresh, and I was pleased with the trout because I have never had anything like it. Not somewhere I'd go out of my way to eat at, but I'd certainly suggest it if anyone wanted some Indian food on Upper Street, especially if you can snag one of these deals.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zigni House

330 Essex Road

London, N1 3PB

C and I both love Ethiopian food so it was easy to convince her to try Zigni House around the corner from me. A and I tried it once when we first moved here and thought it was ok but that portions were a bit small. This time, C and I had plenty of food and came out stuffed. We ordered the vegetarian sampler for two, and one order of the special kitfo as well (described as finely chopped lean beef seasoned with hot chili pepper and spiced clarified butter served with home-made cottage cheese and spinach). Now that I'm looking at the menu, I'm not sure we got the cottage cheese and spinach part. Hmm. The vegetarian sampler included a ground chickpea dish, a red lentil dish, a chopped spinach dish and a cabbage, potato and carrot dish. While everything tasted good, I think there are other places I still like better for Ethiopian, like Lalibela. Still, it's location is convenient, so I wouldn't be surprised if I end up here again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blueberry Muffins

I pinched this recipe off of Waitrose and modified it a bit to fit what I had on hand. Since I was subbing dried blueberries for fresh, I reduced the sugar content by 1/3 since dried blueberries have sugar in them already. I also used 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and then topped off with milk to make approximately 284ml of buttermilk substitute. The texture of these is a bit cake-like, I probably need to experiment some more to get a finer-crumbed muffin.


250g plain white flour
2 heaped tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
1 x 284ml carton buttermilk
80g butter, melted
130g dried blueberries


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a 12-muffin tray.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. In a large jug, mix the egg, buttermilk and butter.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined, then gently fold in the blueberries, using just a few strokes.
Spoon into the cake cases and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and firm. Transfer to a cooling rack. Eat slightly warm.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Boulevard Brasserie (revisited)

36 Wellington St
London, WC2E 7BD

Since we enjoyed our meal here last time, when A and I needed a good pre-theater restaurant before we headed off to see Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, we decided to come back. This time the Toptable deal was 16.50 for three courses and a kir royale. We ordered the gravalax (home cured salmon with chive cream and country bread), spinach salad (with feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and black olives), minute steak with frites, trout with mash and watercress sauce, and crème brûlée and pot au chocolat. Just as great as we remembered - everything tasted fresh and was well-seasoned, and I was particularly impressed with how perfectly my trout was cooked and how the crème brûlée had a lovely crackly top. Highly recommend this if you need somewhere to eat around Covent Garden, especially if you're tight on time - service was attentive and we were in and out in 50 minutes.

PS. I recommend the play as well - we had 10 quid tickets but were upgraded to the top price seats when we arrived at the theater. The second and third acts are particularly gripping and just flew by. Excellent performances all around.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pontefract Castle

71 Wigmore Street

While A and I were wandering about having our plans thwarted, we needed to get some lunch as it was already past 3pm. The Pontefract Castle loomed into sight and the thought of some hot pub food and a pint was enough to pull us in. After grabbing a pint of ale and a half pint of cider, A ordered Cumberland sausages and mash while I had the fish and chips. They were both ok but nothing special, so I probably won't ever go back for food. Plus I had a little tummy ache later, which may not have been related to the food, but then again, maybe it was...

Friday, January 15, 2010

La Fromagerie

2-6 Moxon Street

A and I had a brilliant idea for a lazy weekend afternoon - we'd go look at Damien Hirst's paintings at the Wallace Collection and then get delicious steaks afterwards. While we did see a lot of skulls, we were disappointed to find out that Le Relais de Venise was undergoing renovations so there was no steak to be had. No matter, we popped into La Fromagerie's cheese room for some consolation cheese instead. Starting from the top left, our cheeseboard consisted of Tamie de L'Abbaye, a deliciously creamy and rich cheese made in a monastery in France, some Comte that was aged for 30 months on a French mountainside, and some Smoked Montgomery's Cheddar from Somerset which was crumbly and intensely smokey. Cheered us up right away!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cheese Curls

Available at Whole Foods

M and I were doing a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods and unfortunately had not eaten lunch yet, so we had the brilliant idea of grabbing whatever snacks took our fancy. For me, this meant the closest thing they had to Cheetos. These are Whole Foods' imitation Cheetos, and they are not the same at all. These are probably less full of fake cheese and preservatives, but they don't cure my Cheetos cravings, so I guess they're a failure for me. Next time I'll just wait until I can get some geniune orange-colored snacks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Altdorf Biergarten

301 W Main St.
Fredericksburg, TX


After climbing a big granite dome in the Hill Country, A and I drove to Fredricksburg to immerse ourselves in quaint German tourist-ville. After downing Texan wines and beers and trying a ridiculous amount of salsas, spreads, fudges and jams at this cool gourmet shop, we decided to try some sausages as well and popped into Altdorf Biergarten. We ordered the sausage sampler, and from left to right above there's a cheesewurst, a bratwurst and a Texan sausage that they make themselves. The Texan sausage was my favorite, followed by the bratwurst. I think the cheesewurst, which was filled with gooey yellow cheese, was just too rich for me to enjoy after the first bite. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


8820 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78758

Trudy's is an Austin institution - they make killer Texas Martinis (you can only have two before they cut you off) and serve up some pretty awesome Tex-Mex. My mom took me and A there on our last day and we went all out. I couldn't resist the lunch buffet - for $8.95 it's a real bargain and they seem to put a little bit of each of their dishes there for you to try. Starting with the fish goujons and going clockwise, there's a soft beef taco, chicken flauta, smoked chicken enchiladas, grilled pork chops, grilled chicken and a stuffed avocado. There were also little servings of flan for dessert and lots of fresh fruit. My mom went with the stuffed avocado as an entree and an enormous portion of avocado stuffed with chicken and cheese came out with rice and beans on the side. A got a giant burger with gorgonzola and bacon, which he polished off happily. And since he got potato wedges when he ordered shoestring fries, our waitress just comped a massive side of shoestring fries to go with the potato wedges. Genius.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ba Le

5018 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL

M and I were running errands with new baby O and needed some lunch, so we tried bahn mi from Ba Le. We still had a couple more places to hit after I bought the sandwiches so it was probably another 30 minutes before we got home to eat them, but they were still delicious. I had the #1 special, which is your typical bahn mi - ham, pork pate, headcheese and pork roll along with pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and jalapenos. M had a vegetarian bahn mi with fried tofu. I loved the crispy baguette paired with the savory meats, though I love cilantro so could have done with a little more. The jalapeno was really spicy so I removed most of it before I finished eating. For $2.95, it's cheap and yummy to boot.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Get Sum Dim Sum

4400 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 

When my dad wanted to take us out for dim sum, we discovered that all of our usual haunts had shut down. This left us with the dangerous prospect of eating untested dim sum, but I used Yelp to help us find somewhere that other people liked, and once we saw Get Sum Dim Sum's website, we decided to give them a chance, despite the dumb name. Luckily the dim sum was actually very well made, although quite ordinary - the menu clearly sticks to relatively tame dishes (no chicken feet or tripe to be found). We all enjoyed the food, though my mom had some complaints about the price, since she is used to cheaper dim sum. Still, for a central Austin location with some trendy decor, I didn't think the pricing was out of line, and the food was fresh and tasty, so it still gets a thumbs up from me.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mushroom Wellington

*Guest post by Christine*

The Mushroom Wellington is a grander version of the humble nut roast with lots of Christmassy flavours added and is the perfect centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner as it can be frozen weeks ahead, uncooked and baked straight from the freezer in 45 minutes. You are advised to make two as meat eaters will want some too.

The mushrooms in this dish are slowly simmered in sherry and tamari to create a rich jus and these are blended with cashews, ground almonds, onions, fresh tarragon and fresh wholewheat breadcrumbs. Combined together, this "pate" is first moulded into an oblong about 11" x 4" x 2" and then covered in a layer of puff pastry which is plaited to keep the filling inside and to give the finished dish a crisp golden casing.

The dish feeds six easily with two slices per person plus festive roasted potatoes and parsnips; sprouts finished with sauted chestnuts, port gravy and gingered cranberry sauce. I found it very stress free especially as one guest even offered to make the bread sauce.

Mushroom Wellington
(these quantities make 2 Wellingtons and serve 12-16)

500g/1lb 5oz puff pastry
60ml/2 floz sunflower oil
675g/1 1/2 lb onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
450g/ 1 lb chestnut mushrooms, left whole
2 tables fresh tarragon
2 tables tamari
2 tables sherry or Marsala
freshly ground pepper
11 1/2 ozs broken cashews
175g/ 6 oz fine, fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
320g/11 oz ground almonds
1 egg beaten, for glazing

Method:- (This looks like a lot of instructions but in fact it is fairly straight forward)

1) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into two rectangles 12 x 9 inches each and set aside, in fridge, until required.

2) To make filling, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions with half the garlic for about 20 minutes - you want deep brown rich coloured ones not the insipid pale variety - remove from pan and put aside. In the same pan add the mushrooms with the rest of the garlic and half the tarragon and cook on a fairly high heat - after about 10 minutes add the tamari and alcohol and continue until the mushrooms are cooked through and you have a nice inky jus. Season with pepper. Set aside and retain all the mushroom liquor.

3) In a processor, blend the cashews with the mushroom liquor to a fine puree adding a little more alcohol if necessary and put into a large bowl, then finely blend the onions and add to bowl; finely blend the mushrooms and add to bowl; finally add the ground almonds, breadcrumbs and remaining tarragon and mix well. The mixture should just hold its shape when formed with the hands.

4) Preheat oven to 220 C/425 F/gas mark 7. Remove pastry from fridge and place the two rectangles on a floured surface; place half the filling on one sheet forming a shape about 11" by 3" x 2" high. Then with the pointed end of a knife make diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle starting from the left hand corner of the pastry towards the pate mixture. Repeat at the right hand corner cutting down towards the centre. The strips should be about 3/4" wide. Fold the end pieces in first and then draw strips from left and then right crossing them over so that the mixture is snuggly wrapped up. Repeat this once more for the other Wellington.

5) At this stage you can wrap in foil and freeze, or glaze generously with beaten egg and place on a floured tray and bake in the oven from between 35 - 45 mins until golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Texas Sugar Cookies

Since I bought an adorable Texas-shaped cookie cutter the other day, I had to make sugar cookies to test it out. This recipe for Mrs. Fields-style sugar cookies looked easy so I gave it a try and the results were good. The dough is easy to work with and holds shapes well, and it's not overly sweet, though I left off the additional sugar sprinkles that were recommended.

Texas Sugar Cookies (makes 2-3 dozen)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (170g) butter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt with a wire whisk. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add the flour mixture. Blend on low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.
Gather dough into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Refrigerate one hour until firm.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. With cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate with colored sugars or sprinkles. Bake for 13-15 minutes, being careful not to brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Soy Sauce Chicken

This is one of my favorite dishes - my mom makes it for me every time I go home. This method of cooking results in an incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful chicken - it goes really well with white rice and some sautéed or steamed vegetables.


garlic powder
red wine
one whole chicken
soy sauce
one star anise
cilantro (coriander)
sesame oil

Clean chicken, remove innards and trim off wing tips and excess fat, if any. Rub the whole chicken, both inside and outside, with some red wine, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Place in large, nonstick pot over medium heat and brown on all sides. Pour off excess chicken fat, if any.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup red wine, 1/3 cup water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp pepper, 2 star anise and 1/4 cup sesame oil.

Place innards (optional) in pot, along with the sauce in the small bowl. Add chicken to the pot, and cover. Place pot over low-medium heat and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook chicken, turning every 5 minutes or so, so that all sides of the chicken cook in the sauce for a while. Check for doneness after 20 to 30 minutes - if juices run clear when chicken is pierced, it is ready.

Remove chicken from pot and place on serving dish. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp cornstarch with a little water to make a paste and then add to the sauce in the pot. Stir until sauce thickens, and then add chopped cilantro to sauce. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is basically the Tollhouse recipe on the back of a packet of Nestle chocolate chips, but I reduced the salt and omitted the nuts. They're absolutely phenomenal - crispy on the edges, soft and chewy in the centers. Super easy to make as well.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 4-5 dozen)


2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (227g) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg) semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Line baking sheets with foil and drop by rounded tablespoon onto greaseproof baking paper.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Juan in a Million

2300 East Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, TX 

Juan in a Million is an Austin institution but surprisingly I had never been there before. A and I decided it was a good place to have some breakfast before hiking up Enchanted Rock. The Don Juan (above) is their signature dish - two flour tortillas with a heap of eggs, potatoes, bacon and cheese on top. I also ordered a chorizo and potato breakfast taco. A and I shared this and were stuffed afterwards. There's a competition to see who can eat the most Don Juans in one sitting - apparently the record is seven, which horrifies me. All of the above, plus free chips and salsa and a coffee, came to less than $10. Austin rocks.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kerbey Lane Cafe

3704 Kerbey Lane
Austin, TX 

A wanted pancakes one morning, and in Austin pancakes are synonymous with Kerbey Lane Cafe. This 24-hour cafe has four locations around Austin, but I usually end up at the original one. We ordered coffee, a breakfast taco with eggs and potato, a short stack of pancakes (one gingerbread, one pumpkin) and sides of sausage and bacon. Amazing. See the size of the pancakes up there? Diner, take note - weeny thin pancakes are not American-style. All this was under $15 - shocking.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Baguette House

Chinatown Center

10901 N. Lamar Blvd. #C312
Austin, TX

My mom and I were shopping for Asian groceries when we decided to stop for lunch. Baguette House makes really delicious Vietnamese baguettes, and I was keen to try their bahn mi. $3.25 buys you the #1 House Special, which comes with sliced ham, head cheese, pate and pork meat loaf, along with the usual pickled vegetables and cilantro. My mom went with the grilled beef sandwich for $3.75. The baguettes were perfect as usual - crispy on the outside so they shatter when you bite in, but soft on the inside so the fillings don't escape. I think the beef one was slightly more flavorful though - really nice lemongrass marinade on the meat. I also had a milk tea with tapioca but it was only so-so, I'll stick to bubble tea at a proper bubble tea cafe next time.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chuy's (Revisited)

I know, I just posted about Chuy's last week. Well, A has arrived in Austin and it wouldn't be fair if he didn't get to go as well, so we dropped in for another lunch. At least I ordered something different this time. I wasn't as hungry so I got the chicken quesadillas from the starters section, and A ordered the carne guisada (beef) burrito (which forewarns you on the menu that it is "Big as yo' head"). The chicken and carne guisada were both incredibly tender and flavorful - whoever is cooking the meat in the kitchen sure knows what they're doing. Along with A's New Mexican martini, and the neverending chips and salsa, we had a great time.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Fifteen Cornwall

On The Beach

Watergate Bay

*Guest post by Andy*

You might have heard of Saint Jamie Oliver’s charitable project-cum-posh seaside restaurant (if not then catch up here). Having enjoyed a very special meal at Fifteen Cornwall in the spring, some of us returned for a post-Xmas lunch with high expectations. We limbered up with a warm drink, before most of us settled on the three-course set menu. I picked parsnip soup livened with chili oil, pheasant on a field of lentils, and tiramisu. The soup, served with fresh, tasty bread, was warming, and not too sweet. I'd only had pheasant on one previous occasion, as a young 'un, and I'm assured I didn't overly enjoy the experience. But after deciding to give it another go - what's the worst that could happen? - I was alarmed to find this one tough and chewy too. I was faced with a dilemma of sorts: should I complain – or is this how pheasant is meant to taste? Reader, I ate the pheasant. The tiramisu was creamy but light as anything, with the sponge doused in amaretto, yet somehow not soggy. Bonus marks to nature for the stunning sea views. But what effect would that fibrous pheasant have on Fifteen's final score? I'm giving it a B. Sort out your birds, Jamie, and we can talk about an A minus.