Friday, January 8, 2010

Hoisin-chicken stir-fry with peppers and baby corn

I have found the secret ingredient!

Decided to make a recipe from, because, despite loving making and eating stir fries, I've only got about 1 decent recipe for them.

This one called for Hoisin Sauce - and thankfully Chinese food and ingredients are one thing that you can find in wonderous variety in Mauritian supermarkets. I've never used Hoisin before, but as I cracked open the bottle the smell was amazing. This is clearly the stuff that they use to make the sticky-sweet-and-savoury coating for Peking Duck. I was instantly in love and will start experimenting with the stuff as soon as possible. Hmmm - imagine sticky basting sauce for pork chops on the braai - wicked.

Anyway, I wasn't making pork chops, and Wifey has approved the dinner as one that I can make again - so it goes like this.

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
360g skinless chicken breasts - cut into thin strips.
1 1/2 green peppers - julienned.
420g can o baby corn - cut into pieces.
2 cloves garlic - minced (I got lazy and just sliced it thinly)
2 spring onions - diagonally sliced (I seriously need to start growing these - because it drived me crazy buying a whole bunch from the shop and then using 2, only to watch the rest go manky in the fridge) (So I sliced up a small onion instead)

Cook rice (actually I made noodles)
Mix together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Heat wok over super-high heat, then add 1 tbspn peanut oil.
Remove chicken from the wok and set aside.
Add the other tablespoon peanut oil and stir fry green pepper for 2 minutes.
Add corn and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add spring onions and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Add sauce mixture and chicken and stir fry to combine.
Serve over rice (or noodles)

The great thing about stir-frying is that, aside from prep'ing the vegetables, the actual cooking time is really quick. If you boil the kettle to cook the noodles as you switch on the wok, then the noodles are ready about the same time as the rest of the meal.

Flickr: Project 365 and The Beach House

So in an effort to blog more this year I found a project on Flickr - Project 365 for Food bloggers. Clearly there are a lot of food bloggers in the  world these days, so there's nothing particularly fancy about being one of them.

My theory is that taking a photo of food each day will motivate me to write here more, as I'll have a photo to write about.

In any event - my first day looking for food photos I didn't actually cook - but did discover that the cocktails at the Beach House in Grand Baie are fantastic. I was drinking Long Island's, and I think Vicki's were called Sea Breezes, both wicked. The secret to a good Long Island is to not put too much alcohol in it - the number of different spirits is where the flavour comes from. The barman got it right on my first cocktail - absolute perfection - they got stronger for the 2 after that.

The other great revelation of our lunch was the steak. Mauritius is notorious for not having a clue how to cook a steak, and these were done to perfection. Vix had a normal Fillet, and I had a Vodka Fillet (topped with mushrooms and a liquidy sauce (presumably vodka-based)).

Its nice to see the Beach House finally getting their act together. The service has up until now been painfully slow, and the food nothing to write home about. The service yesterday (actually I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday), was nothing great, but we were seated and got our first round of drinks pretty quickly. I had to go searching for the second round, but the food really blew me away.

A friend of mine once said of the place that "if you can't make a restaurant work in a location like that, then there's something seriously wrong." Well, it looks like its starting to work.

Note to self - this would be a fantastic venue to watch the New Year's fireworks next year; and we should also come with the family sometime - you can see the kids swimming in the sea from your table.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The new decade arrives Version 2

Actually the point of the last blog post was lost somewhere along the line.

I'm going to try again...

A new year brings a new set of challenges. Everybody makes new years resolutions, but they tend to be quiet resolutions - do this a little better, try harder at that - more important than the grand statements like stop smoking, drinking, exercise every day, etc.. And if you're anything like me they tend to be the same every year. I don't think that's bad, I think its part of the journey.

Its also a good time to look forward to what's coming in the year ahead.

This year the big kahuna is that we're getting married. So far we have a tentatively booked a church, and we've kind of written a guest list. So that means it's pretty sorted out then... Well more likely is that there's a mammoth task ahead of us, but mammoth tasks are what should make the year pretty memorable, so I'm looking forward to the organization part of the whole deal as much as the actual event (which scares me shitless). The actual moment of marrying the girl that I've loved for years, lived with for years, and already had two kids with, scares me a lot less than the act of hosting a massive event. As far as I'm concerned we've been married for years, with all the ups and downs that brings.

But this is supposed to be a food blog... and I have to go.

OK, so quickly ... new years resolutions (much the same as last year) - continue the healthier eating mission for me and vix - start getting some exercise (exercise bike; touch rugby team; maybe take up running again) - its super-hot season in Mauritius, so i've found some salad recipes - eat beans - get Jazz to eat any veggies whatsoever - try get more veggies into us at each meal - ummm... - stop smoking (hahahahaha), never mind - stop drinking too much (I have two small kids, you must be joking, ok, I'm joking) - umm... sort out my relationship with Wifey (not that its bad, but some proper attention is definitely in order, especially with two small kids in the house) - get Jazz to learn French better (she completely tanked at school last semester) - get us to learn French better - get married - make sure my boss loves me (and gives me a new car, and a proper raise) - ummmmm... ok, I got to go - make Jasmine less of a monster - actually I got a two hour date with Wifey - that's enough.

Later peeps.

Oh, and organize this blog better - got to learn the html so that paragraphs and bullet points look right (which really annoys me) - and write often - and i just signed up to a flickr group to post a food pic every day.

The new decade arrives

Its been over a month since I wrote here last - holiday season madness - family visiting - massive christmas eve dinner experiment - family fueds and christmas anger - lazy days by the pool - new years eve with much needed friends - new years day hangover, with long drawn out lunch at the pub - no maid or nanny here for the last two weeks - work project in the background - its been busy, but its been fun.

I fully intend to tell you the story of my Christmas eve dinner, but not today. However, considering how I'll probably never get around to telling the christmas story otherwise, here's the short version.
Food-wise it actually went quite well. Company-wise it was a fairly spectacular disaster.
Chicken skewers as pre-food snacks were changed at the last minute to my standard honey-mustard chicken skewers, which were great, but finished before the guests got here. Then I chickened out of the asparagus starter because I didn't think I'd find any fresh asparagus at the shops (although when I got to the shops, there was fresh asparagus, but no shrimp).
Starter was changed to a prawn cocktail, also standard issue, and also nice to eat. The roast (the coup-de-grace), was huge, it started off cooking too quickly, and so was a little blackened in some places, and it fell to pieces rather than being carved nicely because there was too much stuffing. It was, nevertheless, delicious (IMHO, the guests had excused themselves half-way through dessert, so maybe they didn't feel the same).
Vicki's side dish bean salad was great - my side dish pumpkin and spinach salad was fine, but there was no spinach and just a tiny bit of rocket instead. And desert by the ladies (Vix and my mom), was delicious granadilla ice-cream and christmas cake.
Except for the disaster with the guests, we had a great day setting up, cooking, opening some presents, drinking a little too much, and generally spending time together as a family. Maybe I can find some pictures ...