Foodie and Footie Adventures plus Recipes Galore

Let me give you a warning, this is going to be a L O N G post. I decided to just put it all in one to save on multi-posts and multiple emails going out. A lot has happened since my last post which is about only one week! But we managed to do so many things and experienced a lot! I am so glad though that I get to do this with my best friend in the whole wide world. Always love sharing and being able to talk about it with another.

Let’s start : In The Beginning…

Spinach Soup with Croutons

Homemade Pizza with Smoked Bulgogi Cashews on a rye and olive oil base

After a super delicious meal, we retired to the couch. My mind was buzzing with the fact that Christmas is TOMORROW. I couldn’t sleep, forcing my husband to stay up with me until past midnight. We wished each other Merry Christmas through our fuzzy, dizzy spell of tiredness. Reluctantly we wandered to bed, like zombies falling heavily on the soft, warm mattress.  The night was restless for me, tossing and turning, knowing all the presents are waiting for us outside and surprises for each other. There was one in particular that I couldn’t wait to surprise my husband with. I just couldn’t wait to see the look on his face. Christmas turns me into a child, sitting on the floor in my PJ’s, ripping the Christmas wrappers off urgently, eager beaver to see what’s hidden inside. I finally settled at 2.30am.

Christmas came upon us in a midnight breeze, I jumped out of bed at 7.30am on the 25th of December 2011 and calmly did my morning routine although I was itching to get on with Christmas!! My husband alas… was still asleep, oh bless him… GET UP GET UP GET UP GET UP – that was me sending him telekinetic vibes, can you picture it? Fingers on my temples, eyes screwed up, eyes burning at the back of his head in bed. Haha.. no, I did not wake him up. I just prepared breakfast (really loudly-not purposely of course), sorted out the presents on the table, preparing an empty paper bag for Christmas wrappers-yes, I am THAT pedantic. Oh dear, Christmas seem to bring out the best and worse in me. We went through laughs and surprises while opening our gifts from up north and down south and finally gifts for each other. We had them to each other one by one, with full explanation and glee and hoping that the exchange receipt isn’t required! Suffice to say I got loads of winter goodies and kits, coming from Dubai, we weren’t prepared at all. And for my husband, I stocked him up with winter kit too, his favourite choc mints and personalised stationary. I was so happy to see his face light up when he saw them, no words can express it.

For Christmas brunch, I really wanted to cook a dish/meal we missed on our recent trip – a traditional English fry up. On the plate, crispy bacon, sausages, baked beans, fried eggs and toast, mushrooms and onions and hash brown.

Well, some ingredients were missing but all in all, we were both happy and satisfied! We sneaked in a few Christmas goodies too! Welsh cakes, shortbread, Stollen and rum and raisin slice. The Stollen slice stole the limelight on the plate (excuse the pun) but it was the best slice of Stollen bread I’ve eaten to date. The magic, I think, is that the marzipan is swirled inside the bread which gives every bite a bit of marzipan and we do love our marzipan. We could have marzipan day in day out and if a Stollen bread doesn’t have marzipan in it, it’s just a raisin loaf to us… we then just lather it with marzipan paste anyway! Yay, first dish ticked off. We went for a Christmas Day walk after brunch and was met with a lot of festivities and free Christmas giveaways on the street. It was buzzing!! What a great environment.

We picked up a couple of ingredients along the way and headed home for a simple dinner. A bit of each vegetable we saw on the shelf, one here, one there. We decided to drop a whole lot of dishes from our Christmas menu so we didn’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen and also to avoid stuffing ourselves silly, we ended up with 2 mains and 1 side – Baked Turkey with Roasted Veges and Chestnut Stuffing.

We were so hungry, we both ate in silence. The meal was warm and comforting. I think I had about 3-4 servings. I’m glad we didn’t cook anymore. Saving room for dessert!

The chestnut stuffing was the best and simplest put together we’ve ever done. After having read through a few chestnut stuffing recipes from wonderful chefs and wanting to be adventurous, time got the better of us. These beautiful, sweet, plump, soft chestnuts were a nightmare to peel, it took over 4hours from start to finish and a few down the oesophagus at the same time. These chestnuts were the best buy I ever made and will be making more in the future just because they’re the best, sweetest chestnuts I’ve had.

Simple Chestnut Stuffing

500g cooked chestnuts (mashed)

3 large onions

1 egg and 3 egg whites

chickpea flour

salt and pepper

1. Place them all together, blend in a processor or mash by hand if you like it chunky.

2. Place in an oiled baking tray and bake for 30min or if you like roll them into balls and bake.

Cocoa Snow Log

No fail Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cake, so moist, so creamy and oh so very Rum-my.

Rawsome Cocoa Snow Log

3 ripe bananas

4 cups of dessicated coconut

1 cup of date paste

1 cup of almonds (soaked)

1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of coconut milk

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1. Blend the almonds and walnuts till semi fine, leaving a bit for some crunch. Mix well with mashed bananas, cocoa powder and date paste (or chopped dates).

2. Place dessicated coconut, coconut milk and coconut oil into another bowl and mix well. If too watery, add more dessicated coconut and if too dry, add more coconut milk and/or oil.

3. Press a first layer of the coconut mixture at the bottom of a rectangle tray to about 2cm thick, then a layer of the banana cocoa goodness, the another layer of the coconut. Keep on repeating if you had more left overs and also depending on the thickness of your layers.

4. Put in freezer for about 1hr till harden. Take out to thaw for about 30min before serving. It is that easy and oh-so-delicious.

More goodies and deliciousness throughout the days in between hunger and the blastery cold outside.

Boxing Day Brunch – bacon, hash, cheese toast and fried stuffing

We always try to have Gluhwein during Christmas, my husband first had it during his time away in Germany. I should learn to make Gluhwein, wonder how hard/easy it is to make

Smoked Bulgogi Cashews blended with Salsa Mole on a Daikon Crisp

Diced Veges and Tofu on Daikon Crisp topped with Roasted Garlic (mmm.. my favourite)

Beef Rib Herbal Soup with Banchans, Kimchi and Japchae

In between Christmas and New Years, we managed to squeeze in a trip outstation and encountered the weird, wonderful and tasty local delights.

Bibimbap

Donkatsu

Seafood Pajeon (Pancake)

Bulgogi Pizza from Dominos and Sticky Garlic Chicken Wings

Local Delights, Oranges and Apples – Super Sweet, Juicy and Crunchy!

Banchans that came with our Black Pork Order

Best EVER banchans I’ve had. I think I ate 5 bowls of that beautiful Spinach and Kimchi

Black Pork Kimchi Stew with Leek in Red Pepper sauce

The King of the Meal, Black Pork – see the black hairs?

Raw Beef sauteed in Red Pepper Paste on daikon and cucumber julienne

After the trip, we came back smiling and happy. We had such a great time. This time, no rushing, no cramming too many things to see or do, just laid back, relaxing time away and 3 UNESCO sites over 3 days. What an honor to be able to enjoy the wonders of mother nature at it’s ultimate best.

Waiting for these goodies and they finally arrived when we came home!

We came home and we’re at it again, oh yeah, it’s New Years this time. The end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Here we go again. Remember this time, keep it simple stupid! No rushing around, no doing too much, no trying to impress anybody as long as you and your loved ones are happy and content. Try to relax, this is what holidays are all about. I’m so glad there’s only 2 of us at the moment, no pressure to entertain – yet! 😉

Club Sandwich LTE. We finished the bacon and were out of greens. Ok, it’s a turkey sandwich with benefits

Left overs from the Club Sandwich – turkey and cheese

After unpacking our little suitcase, having been away for 3 days, there was a whole load of washing to do. We did a fair bit of mountain climbing, walking and light jogging so that was first priority. I’m so glad for leftovers and there was a fair bit for the next few days. I definitely prefer taking cooked food out of the freezer than cooking from scratch. Lately, that’s been me, no mood. Plus, I’ve had to change our cooking and eating style to suit the local produce and I have yet to come to terms with it. Still finding my way around the bellflower roots, kelp, kimchi and bulgogi marinades. Oh what fun!

Food wanderings on NYE

Street food is DA BEST!

So are cafe foods. French apple tart, bbq chicken salad, bulgogi and spicy chicken wrap. YUM!

On our way home, haven’t actually planned anything for  New Year Eve’s dinner, we wondered if we should try the new Black Smith restaurant that just opened down from us or go home and enjoy an intimate dinner by ourselves. Hankering for salmon, we decided that I shall win the toss for the night and head home. Stopping at the local supermarket, they just had the last stock of salmon in and told me that the salmon was super fresh and must be eaten today if I wanted to have them raw so I did. Along side, we decided to pick up some Chinese takeaways from a new place we’ve always wanted to try, dumplings, sweet and sour chicken and sticky pork strips.

I pan fried tempeh chips, blanched a head of broccoli and sliced up the fresh salmon, so eager to try them again after 5months now – yes, if you believe it, I was having salmon sashimi withdrawal symptoms. These include, rocking back and forth, constantly thinking and talking about salmon sashimi, going into a trance of salmon sashimi dreams… oh dear. I couldn’t take it any longer. This is one splurge I had to take for NYEve! Thanks to my husband for persuading me to buy a fillet. They are very expensive here. Double to price of Dubai. So I savoured every bite and every slice. They were oh-so-gorgeous.

New Year Eve’s spread and sweet plum wine

My first hand at home sliced sake sashimi, tempeh chips and broccoli

After ushering in the New Year, which I will not go in-depth into, as I am ashamed so say, it involved me snoring way before the clock stroked midnight!! Ok, enough of that… 😉 My first bake up make up was a lovely recipe I saw online which I modified to suit what was in my larder.

Buckwheat Granola 2 Ways (Cocoa Granola and Cinnamon Granola)

2 cups of buckwheat

1 cup of amarath

1 cup of millet

2 cups of almonds

1 cup of dessicated coconut

4 tbsp golden syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp cinnamon powder

dried fruits (options)

1. Soak the buckwheat, amarath and millet in fresh water for 2 days. Wash, rinse and soak again each day.

2. After the first day, put in the almonds to soak for the last remaining day, after a wash and rinse again.

3. Blend the almonds till semi fine.

4. Rinse the buckwheat mixture and drain as best you can. A little bit of water remaining is ok. Mix in the almond crunchies.

5. Mix in the dessicated coconut and coconut oil together with the buckwheat mixture.

6. I then split the mixture into 2 batches. One I sprinkled with cinnamon and the other I mixed with cocoa powder, golden syrup and date paste.

7. Spread both the mixture out into 2 separate trays, about 1cm thick, depending and roast/bake for 40min. Because the buckwheat, amarath and millet are already soaked, they are soft and ready to be eaten so they don’t need to be roasted for long. If you wish, after 30min, toss the granola around and put it back into the oven again for another 20min.

8. Remove from oven to cool down. You can toss in the dried fruits at this point if you like them fresh or in with the mix at step 6.

9. Now promise me something, you’ll enjoy them with a nice warm bowl of soy milk! We did.

Now, who’s ready for Chinese New Year?