Fun with Fajitas

Another weekend, another cooking opportunity. We decided to have a lazy morning after spending our Friday evening having tasty Thai food at Kin. I’m not convinced the wonton soup was Thai but it was tasty and the portion sizes were generous. We strayed from our usual granola, fruit and yoghurt breakfast and branched out into rye bread with honey because my cousin provided us with some British honey from her bee keeping duties (I love a freebie) and the rye bread was half price in Tesco’s. Anyway, we decided to make some fajitas as these are so easy and freeze really well. We rounded the day off by watching the men’s 10m Olympic diving final, so all in all a very lazy day.

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Fajita time

Ingredients (makes 8 fajitas)

  • 6 pork steaks
  • tomatoes (4-5 salad ones, we ended up using 6 which was slightly too much)
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • rice (1 cup) +  cumin seeds, (optional to make it into burritos)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 can refried beans (small, however we can only find large ones in the shops)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (large)
  • 2-3 avocados
  • wraps (pack of 8)
  • spice mix:
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 chilli or some chilli powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. Make spice mix in a big pyrex bowl
  2. Cut pork into strips and mix with spice mix, store in fridge for a few hours (preferably overnight)
  3. Slice up all vegetables and put into separate bowls
  4. Mash up avocado with a fork
  5. Put beans into bowls but only do enough for the meal you are about to eat
  6. Using a pan, cook up onions and then peppers.
  7. At the same time, using a skillet, cook up peppers then pork (tip: cook everything in 2 batches)
  8. When first batch of pork about to finish, heat beans in microwave for 4 minutes on medium
  9. Put wraps on plate and then fill them up
  10. Put into a George Foreman to crisp up the wrap (alternatively you can heat in oven, if so then you need to put it in when putting in the second batch of pork)
  11. To freeze fajitas we use foil and cling film for ultimate freshness
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Squish the fajita (alternatively don’t overfill or find giant fajita wraps)

 

 

Be happy, grin-ola

Granola makes you grin
Granola makes you grin

Today was a nice lazy day. The sun was shining for once and we decided to make some granola to top up our supplies. We find that a handful of fruit (raspberries for tomorrow but we will switch back to strawberries which are cheaper), a couple of dollops of yoghurt (we should use natural yoghurt but find it smells too sour so use Onken flavoured fruit stuff which I’m sure has too much sugar) and a scoop of the granola fills us both up until lunchtime with no snacking in between required.

Granola recipe (makes enough for over a weeks breakfast for two people)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups – rolled oats
  • 1 cup – puffed oats
  • 1/4 cup – flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup – pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup – almonds
  • 1/2 cup – walnuts
  • 1/2 cup – brazil nuts
  • 1/3 cup – olive oil
  • 1/3 cup – honey

Method

  1. Heat oven to 150 °C
  2. Add all dry ingredients into a large bowl
  3. Then add the olive oil and honey, mix
  4. Line 2 trays with parchment paper
  5. Pour the mixture onto the trays
  6. Bake for 35 minutes
  7. It can be poured into a large tupperware container straight away to cool (it means it won’t stick to the parchment paper as it cools)
Ingredients (we find wholefoods has a good selection of ingredients at reasonable prices)
Ingredients (we find wholefoods has a good selection of ingredients at reasonable prices)
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It looks kind of beige now but it will taste delicious
Make sure you chop them up, go nuts
Make sure you chop them up, go nuts
Given everything a good stir
Given everything a good stir
Spread the love
Spread the love

After the excitement of making granola, we decided to also take advantage of it being the weekend and therefore us having more time by making delicious char siu pork with pak choi. We even made enough for leftovers, James has already got a reputation for being a foodie and he has only been in his job for 2 weeks, I suspect when his colleagues see the char siu pork it will reconfirm their suspicions of his food snobbery.

Char char char siu pork

Today was the end of a 4 day Easter weekend. The weather was rainy and we wanted something delicious to cheer us up. More importantly, I wanted leftovers to take into work the next day. We defrosted a piece of pork loin we previously purchased (with a yellow sticker i.e. reduced). James figured that by having me present when cooking, it would make the char siu pork more authentic. This recipe is relatively easy and the taste pay off to effort is high.

IMG_20160328_192706

Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 500 g tenderloin pork
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp five spice powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp rice wine (we used cooking sake as we didn’t have this to hand)
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 0.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 0.5 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp hoi sin sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • few drops red food colouring

Method

  1. Put the all ingredients except pork in a saucepan and bring to simmer for a minute, set aside and let it cool.
  2. Place the pork and marinade in a tupperware and place in the fridge a few hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top (rack is recommended but not critical).
  5. Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade for basting).
  6. Place the pork on the rack and tuck the thin end of the the tenderloin underneath so the whole piece is roughly the same thickness.
  7. Roast for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 – 160F/ 65 – 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste with the marinade.
  8. When the pork is cooked, baste it by pouring on the marinade and use a blow torch to get a charred and caramelised effect. Do this on side of the pork quite a few times then turn around and do on the other side.
  9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
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Stage 1 – the marinade
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Stage 2 – roasting the pork
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Stage 3 – blow torching the glaze

A multitude of meatballs

Another weekend, another lazy day. It started off well as James decided to make crepes for breakfast although we didn’t have any lemon juice so it was plain sugar crepes for me. Later on, we got to enjoy some matcha with a nice sweet from Minato Kitchen that we had brought the previous day, these sweets are small for £1.50 however they taste amazing and the fruit flavour doesn’t taste artificial at all.

To continue the food trend, we decided to make meatballs as we have none left in the freezer. We took a trip to Tesco’s and were ready to make a big batch.

Mighty meatballs of deliciousness
Mighty meatballs of deliciousness

Ingredients (makes 60 small meatballs)

Sauce

  • 3 small onions
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (we like it very garlicky)
  • 1 chilli
  • Bottle of red wine (essential and even we don’t cheap out on this)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
  • Beef stock (2 cubes)
  • Basil (a few generous teaspoons)
  • Oregano (also a few generous teaspoons)
  • Carrots (5-6 sticks, grated)

Meatballs

  • 3 tbsp fine white breadcrumbs
  • Milk (enough to fully soak breadcrumbs)
  • Garlic (a few cloves)
  • 500 g minced beef (15% fat)
  • 500 g minced pork (5% fat)
  • Garlic powder (1 tsp)
  • Onion powder (1 tsp)
  • Paprika (1 tbsp)
  • Parsley (a few generous teaspoons)
  • Parmesan (to taste)
  • Flour, to dust

Method

  1. Put breadcrumbs into a bowl, pour just enough milk to cover and leave to soak.
  2. To make the tomato sauce, heat oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli until soft.
  3. Splosh in a fair amount of the wine, then add all the tomatoes along with the basil, oregano, carrots and some seasoning. Let the sauce simmer to reduce and thicken and then add beef stock.
  4. While the tomato sauce is cooking, prepare the meatballs. Put the minced beef and pork into a large bowl and add the garlic, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and parmesan. Squeeze the breadcrumbs to remove excess milk, then add to the bowl. Mix well, using your hands, and season with salt and pepper. (Don’t scrunch it up too much or you will lose the texture and the meatballs will be too dense.)
  5. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  6. Shape the mixture into balls, the size of a thumb (James’ thumb), and dust in flour. Use the first one as a standard measure (i.e. make sure all others are vaguely the same size as it).
  7. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot, fry the meatballs, in batches, until golden.
  8. Deglaze using the remaining wine.
  9. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce . Bake in the oven for an hour or so.
  10. Serve with spaghetti
Step 1 - soak breadcrumbs in milk
Step 1 – soak breadcrumbs in milk
Make the sauce
Make the sauce
Handy tip - we use pre-grated frozen parmesan
Handy tip – grate all the parmesan then store it in the freezer
Meatball conveyor belt production
Meatball conveyor belt production

Dango recipe

Today was the day of dango. We had all the ingredients to make it in our cupboards from a previous dango experiment although I might have thrown away the piece of paper with the various recipes we tried and blind tasted…

We remembered the website that we used previously and it was only once all the dry ingredients were put together with the water that we realised we were following the recipe for the dango which previously scored the lowest and actually needed a recipe with silken tofu. I wanted to start again however James decided it was better to correct our mistake by improvising so in went some tofu and then extra glutinous rice flour. In the end, our recipe ended up being:

For the dango:

  • 100g rice flour
  • 100g + 60g glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp katakuriko
  • 100g silken tofu
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 150ml warm water
  • 7 bamboo skewers

For the green tea sauce:

  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 30g sugar
  • 30ml water

If you’re familiar with dango then you’ll notice that we have substituted some of the ingredients from proper Japanese recipes as Japanese flour is quite expensive and the flour from a Chinese supermarket is about a quarter of the price (from our previous experiment we found that the Japanese flour did produce a slightly better dango however the small increase in enjoyment wasn’t worth the large price increase).

The rice flour should be joshinko, the glutinous rice flour should be shiratamako, and we included the katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) as we understand the shiratamako is a mixture of mochiko (a type of glutinous rice flour) and potato starch.

On top of that, the traditional sauce is mitarashi (a combination of sweet and salty which I’m not too keen on) but we tried one with green tea sauce on the Philosopher’s walk (in Kyoto) and it was the best dango ever so we’ve tried to recreate it ourselves.

The ingredients for dango, it should include silken tofu which we only realised once we started making it. The matcha was from our travels and we will be sad when it runs out.
The ingredients for dango, the picture should include silken tofu however we only realised after we started making it. The matcha was from our travels and we will be sad when it runs out.

The process for this non-authentic dango is simple:

  1. Mix all the dango ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Knead until you get the consistency of your earlobe
  3. Roll into balls, we made medium sized balls which were 25g each
  4. Put the dango into a bath of boiling water and wait for them to float for 1-2 minutes before transferring them to a cold water bath
  5. Grill them at 150 degrees celsius for 5 minutes, turn them over and grill the other side for another 5 minutes and then take out of the oven
  6.  Whilst the grilling is going on, make the green tea sauce by mixing all the ingredients together and heating on a low heat on the job until its a nice thick sauce consistency (don’t leave it on a too high heat for too long otherwise it caramalises and you’ll have to try and save it by adding hot water…)
  7. Drizzle the green tea sauce on top and it’s ready to eat
Dango making in action, notice that James is using the claw action to mix everything together as he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.
Dango making in action, notice that James is using the claw action to mix everything together as he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.
Dango ready for its bath, James particularly enjoyed using the slotted spoon which is essential for this process.
Dango ready for its bath, James particularly enjoyed using the slotted spoon which is essential for this process.
The finished product with green tea sauce.
The finished product with green tea sauce.

We will make this again and next time we’ll omit the rice flour and water, we’ll get the sauce to the right consistency and may adjust the grill technique to hopefully get an even better dango.

Matcha cookies

Delicious cookies, with a matcha twist.
Delicious cookies, with a matcha twist.

I am always on the lookout for a good cookie recipe and although it doesn’t compare to my favorite super chocolate brownie cookies, it has always been tasty. I am a big fan of crisp crunchy outsides with a chewy (but not doughy) centre.

I like cookies and I like matcha … why not both?

Ingredients

  • 350g sifted plain flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 225g butter

  • 175g caster sugar

  • 175g soft brown sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 350g dark/white chocolate, sliced into little cubes

  • 2 tsp matcha powder

I normally prefer dark chocolate but if you want to really taste the matcha you can go with something less overpowering like white chocolate (make sure you get something decent).

How to bake this deliciousness:

  1. Whack that oven up to 180 C (375 F for you non metric lovers)
  2. Cream the butter and both sugar together, keep at it until it becomes smooth it is hard work but worth the effort. Drizzle the vanilla extract and mix in the eggs.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, matcha and salt into another bowl.
  4. Fold the flour mixture gently into the creamed butter.
  5. Mix in the tiny cubes of chocolate.
  6. Spoon out the stiff sticky mixture onto some clingfilm and roll it up into a delicious sausage shape, aim for a diameter of about 5cm. The cookies will spread to about twice the this size.
  7. Put the cookie sausages into the fridge.
  8. Resist the urge to take them out for minimum one hour!
  9. Slice them into little disks of about 1cm thickness and put onto baking paper on a tray into the oven.
  10. Wait 11 mins, do not be tempted by the delicious smells coming from the oven.
  11. When the edge of the cookie starts to brown whip them out onto a cooling rack, you don’t want all your hard work to go soggy.
  12. Enjoy!
Plonk them on a cooling rack straight away to keep them crispy.
Plonk them on a cooling rack straight away to keep them crispy.