Eating Spirally Curly-licious Things

An action shot! spaghetti bolognese (bolognaise) in mid-flight to the mouth.

I had dinner with a colleague last week at the Crowne Plaza Cafe in Port Moresby when we feasted on spaghetti bolognese. For me this was the Cafe’s top offer of the evening! But obviously am biased because I enjoyed the dish so much. The spaghetti was cooked to perfection and the bolognese sauce was beautifully seasoned. I’ve never enjoyed the dish as much as I did then.

I first tasted spaghetti bolognese, Italy’s great culinary gift to the world – actually cooked and ate it at Cameron High School many many many moons ago when the high school had it’s first ever open day. Parents, guardians and the whole new township of Alotau was invited to the event. I couldn’t remember anything else on that day except for loads of people and our cooking group trying to get the spaghetti cooked right and the sauce well-seasoned under the hawke-eyed supervision of our Aussie-Italian teacher who shall be called Mr A.

That was the first time any of us girls had ever heard of the beige coloured long brittle sticks like spikes on a stonefish only longer and slightly thicker and the meaty sauce that went with it plus on top of that a near impossibility trying to pronounce the name of the dish! Mostly we giggled when asked what it was which  meant that the onus was on Mr A to pronounce the name of the dish. Am sure he must have been mighty ticked off by that but he never showed it only glad that we cooked it according to his liking and, sold out in no time.

We were amazed at how pliable these ‘spikes’ became when dipped into hot salted boiling water and after about 10 or so minutes in the pot they came out looking wobbly and spirally which meant they were cooked. On their own, the spaghetti tasted like nothing we’d ever tasted before. Come to think of it now, the spaghetti tasted like wet flour – almost tasteless. The meaty sauce made a world of difference to the taste of the the complete dish. At that time, to a Milne Bay lass,  anything cooked without coconut cream must taste gross.

The sauce was made up of pounds of well-seasoned mince meat ala Mr A.  As I remembered the dish was a hit with everyone and soon we ran out of it. This was a great reward. Running out of this foreign -sounding dish with a foreign sounding name was amazing.

Am sure we sold out because people must have gone for this funny looking funny sounding dish for the novelty of it or perhaps because they were simply hungry. In any case we sold out which was everyone’s goal for the open day especially for those students involved in cooking and selling cooked food.  Maybe we sold out because all the teachers and some of the expat workers from Alotau town  ordered our spaghetti bolognese. There was a big expat community in Alotau and our teachers were mostly Australian.

I think one of the weirdest things I remembered about the dish at high school was that we couldn’t eat the spaghetti bolognese with a spoon! None of us at that age (13 and 14 year olds) had mastered the delicate art of eating with a fork. So who got the last laugh – I bet it was Mr A – our cooking supervisor! And oh, he wasn’t the Home Economics teacher just an Italian with a passion for spaghetti bolognese that underpinned his passion for teaching and hence we benefited from his spaghetti bolognese-making expertise. I am eternally grateful for this bit of non-curricula lesson.

Delizioso!

That high school open day cooking experience had awakened the unstoppable inner culinary adventurer inside of me and now I look forward to tasting new dishes and cuisine wherever I found myself in a new country  or a new place even here in PNG.

Thank you Mr A for adding to my list of the weird, wonderful and strange sounding strange tasting dishes, the awesome spaghetti bolognese.

Wonderful Patisserie To The Rescue

The menu had some favourites

We were so hungry last Saturday and we could have gone to a dozen or so places but we didn’t. Instead we had lunch at the Wonderful Patisserie Cafe along Edgware Road just up from Homebase. This is the place we pass everytime we are on Edgware Road either on our way to Sainsburys or PC World at Staples Corner.

We were so glad to find a couple of our favourites on the menu – some of them – like the aromatic duck complete with steamed wrappers, sauce and healthy fillings. The crispy fried beef and sweet and sour pork.

Aromatic Duck...can't go wrong with this dish
Sauce and fillings for the aromatic duck...

We had a blast! Wonderful Patisserie Cafe to the rescue. We left with full tummies ready for our other Saturday errands. Some photos to remind us of that meal…our first ever at Wonderful Patisserie Cafe.

Sweet and sour pork

Shark fin...

One More For Tandoori Chicken!

Last night I had an awesome meal of tandoori chicken and few other scrumptious dishes at one of my favourite local Indian restaurants.

Became a fan last night...absolutely delish!

I remembered that it was usually a dry dish. But that was why I ordered it. I was ill with fever for the past two and a half days and was in no mood for something with too much sauce or spice. I also wanted a wholesome meal but more dry and moist than with oodles of sauce. I got what I wanted and oh boy…it hit the spot! It really did.

Yummy...hit the spot

Tandoori chicken comes to us from India. It is chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon juice (fresh is better) and some other wonderful, flavourful and aromatic spices. I think the part of the chicken used in this dish is it seems mostly chicken drumsticks or chicken maryland pieces.

Succulent...

Anyway, for rich or richer tandoori chicken recipes to try at home for family and friends or that special someone check out these websites at http://www.mamtaskitchen.com; http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes; http://homecooking.about.com/od/chickenrecipes.

Here is a video courtesy of Youtube, I found on the net which might help as a step-by-step guide to cooking a terrific dish of tandoori chicken.

The tandoori chicken has become my favourite overnight and I reckon it was the way it was cooked or that fact that I wanted something dry and succulent to eat and that was it. To complete my sumptuous meal, I had a mango kulfi and oh boy that was a great choice. What a night, what a dish!

Absolutely out of this world...my bestest Indian dessert

For all tandoori chicken lovers I think I have joined the club…welcome to the world of succulent, delicious, to-die-for chicken ever! Yeah…one more for tandoori chicken! Yippeee…

Pasta Pronto!

Something quick and tasty after a busy day

I came home tonight and decided to make something quick and tasty to eat after a busy day at the office.  I decided to cook pasta with whatever I had in the fridge that needs to be used up. I find pasta is a great time saver and it is one of my larder staples. On a Winter evening, tired and hungry you can be sure that pasta will come to the rescue without a doubt.

I was happy the day was nice and sunny although it started dull and dreary. The slightly warm day was a welcome change from yesterday. It rained all day yesterday! I like the rain but don’t like the cold that goes with it but then this is still Winter so there isn’t much choice is there?

I can feel the warmth of the sun...was probably the heater...hehehe

Anyway, coming home tonight all I wanted was to have a simple meal that can be made in minutes so I don’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen and also be able to have dinner at a decent hour. I knew that American Idol was on tonight – 2 hours of enjoyment – so I didn’t want to be rushing to and from the living room. Dividing my time between a hot stove and a hot TV programme.

From my kitchen...curbs hunger pronto!

So here is my recipe for Pasta Pronto (my own creation). I called it Pasta Pronto, don’t know why but it sounds kinda appropriate…hmmm

Ingredients

2 cups penne pasta

4 cups cold water (use 3 cups to cook the pasta and 1 cup to mix the creamed mushroom soup)

1 doz. thin dried bacon strips

1 tbsp dried parsley

250 grams creamed mushroom soup in garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

6 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1/2 large red onion

1/2 tsp dried crushed chilli

Boil 3 cups of water until boiling andput in 2 cups penne pasta. Cook pasta until cooked through but not soft. In a frying pan fry the onions in the oil, put in dried crushed chilli. Pour in cooked pasta and mix well. Sprinkle roughly crushed dried bacon strips. Pour in mushroom soup and remaining cup of the water. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese and roughly mix until cheese is fully incorporated. Sprinkle the parsley and serve hot in a bowl. Sprinkle the remaining  grated cheese and voila dinner! Pasta Pronto… done!

Serves two...

Two Scoops Of Heaven…

Two delicious scoops of pistachio kulfi. Absolutely mouth-watering...

Introducing the heavenly kulfi.

An Indian icecream made from pistachio nuts. I found out there are other flavours as well – almonds, mango etc – I guess whatever takes the maker’s fancy. This is now my favourite dessert. I have only ever tasted it at the ‘Blue Ginger’ one of my favourite Indian Oriental restaurants in Kenton, Middlesex.

One Sunday a close friend and colleague joined me for the morning service at my Church and after the service we drove to the Blue Ginger restaurant for lunch. It was a wonderful service and here at Blue Ginger it is always the food and non-alcoholic cocktails or mocktails that beckon me to return. Fast forward…after the main course we decided to order dessert. I’ve never had dessert here but since this was a rather special Sunday lunch I thought it was an occasion to try something different and exotic this being a combined Indian Oriental restaurant. I didn’t need to have my arms twisted to have dessert.  Looking at the dessert menu, the name kulfi jumped out at me. Go for it my head and heart screamed out! Kulfi ticked all the right boxes for me, different, exotic and hopefully creeeeeaaamy…

Kulfi shared is enjoyment shared...

Ok, ok! I didn’t order it just like that. I asked the waiter for his recommendation, knowing in my heart that whatever he recommended would’ve made no difference if it weren’t  kulfi. Well, was it coincidence or what? He said ‘kulfi’ and that he had a couple of flavours. One of the flavours was pistachio. That did it! I didn’t hesitate, I practically yelled, politely though, pistachio kulfi.

The waiter went off with the order whilst we contemplated what this new exotic dessert was going to taste like. Sometimes the dessert does not live up to  expectations and I would leave an eatery wondering why I ever bothered to have ordered dessert let alone have dessert at all. Actually I had no expectations  of the kulfi I ordered, just anticipation for something different and exotic and hopefully creamy. No sooner had we stopped talking about it and other Indian desserts we know especially the edible silver paper…that’s right edible silver paper in some of their desserts, then the kulfi arrived.

Wow! Wicked! Cool light peppermint green. It was a vision in cream, mais oui.

You can imagine what happened next. I practically inhaled my kulfi. It was my two scoops of heaven, without a doubt!

How to make kulfi icecream. I surfed the web for possible kulfi recipes and I settled on this recipe at: http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/pistachio_kulfi because it looks easier to make.  I want to be able to make my own pistachio kulfi for a dinner party sometime in the not too distant future. 

Hunting For Kikkoman-san…

I took a late lunch last Thursday so that I could pick up my favourite soy sauce at the Japan Centre in Central London. Well the morning went by so fast and before I knew it, it was time to head up to Piccadilly Street.

Japan Centre...favourite haunts for soy sauce etc
Japan Centre on lower Regent Street - moved from Piccadilly Street

I got to Piccadilly Street and merrily sailed towards the shop thinking of the many different ways I could use soy sauce and how wonderful chicken, pork, fish and other meat dishes taste with soy sauce. I also recalled how in Port Moresby many many moons ago a kind and generous couple used to invite myself and a few of the neighbours during some weekends to sample the culinary delights from her kitchen. Her roast chicken or fried chicken and pork dishes were heaven on earth! Ever since then, now that was about the late 1970s, soy sauce has become my favourite cooking sauce and use it in almost every meat dish include fish and prawns. Along with containers of salt and pepper and herbs in my kitchen, soy sauce is another must-have item!

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, London. When I finally arrived at the place I walked through but the shelves had books and all sorts of stationary and other products but no food, no soy sauce. Well I wasn’t one to shy away from asking questions so I asked one of the few very busy people there where the food was. He politely said, go to lower Regent Street opposity Tesco. So off I went – I only had an hour and I reckon with finding the soy sauce and browsing at the new store I hurried out of there on the second leg of my journey.

Precious soy sauce
The bigger one for cooking and the smaller one for the table...

I found the new place – Japan Centre – to my great delight, it wasn’t so crowded for browsing and the line at the checkout counter was not that long. There I was amongst Japanese food lovers hunting around for favourites items.

There are so many wonderful things and fresh food. The range of any one product is amazing. For example, you can find several types of seaweed. I’d like to find the one that is served in beautiful lacquer boxes in sushi bars like they do in Tokyo. They are a great nutritious substitute for crisps. I enjoyed these when I visited Japan many moons ago.

There, at the Japan Centre, I came across soy sauce in various sizes and a bonus find – Japanese curry. Wow! that was a bonus alright – next beef dish with this in it – mwaaaah – slice of paradise!

Japanese curry
My bonus buy!

I used to be able to find small bottles of soy sauce at Waitrose at Kings Road or Knightsbridge and I think one still can. It’s on the aisle where you can find exotic/world food. That was a couple of years ago when I lived in central London. Now I live elsewhere and still work in Central London, so the Japan Centre is much closer and accessible. Besides, at Japan Centre you can get different sizes so one is spoilt for choice on the size of bottles – now for that I’d use my precious lunch hour to get to Japan Centre.

My troubles finally rewarded, I clutched the bag with my soy sauce – one for cooking and one for the table, I headed back to my office. My hunt for soy sauce was not in vain. In fact now I know where the Japan Centre is my next hunt for soy sauce will not be a long walk.

Soy sauce and Japanese curry from Japan Centre, London
Powerful trio...the next meal is going to be a slice of paradise, alright!

So now with this powerful combo, and Kikkonman-san safely in my kitchen, it’s happy cooking Mari na maski long mauswara, yu!

 

Chicken ASOPA – Paprika, Spice & All Things Nice

I left a comment on Keith Jackson’s PNG Attitude re: Chicken ASOPA, that I will make it this weekend. Well, the good news is I made it! I usually use the measurement in the recipe as a guide. With this recipe I stuck religously to the ingredients but improvised on a couple of the quantities. Overall I followed the recipe and well, what do you know, got Chicken ASOPA at the end of it! Cool. I took some photos to show you what I did. Unfortunately, it is not exactly step-by-step but a few of these stills should give you some idea of the dish and the making of it! The recipe is in Keith Jackson’s PNG Attitude under the Food & Drink  category.

A quick spicy marinade for the chicken
A quick spicy marinade for the chicken

Preparation for the marinade took about 5 minutes. It’s good to have all your ingredients ready so it becomes somewhat like an assembly line once you start…

Browning the chicken in a heated wok
Browning the chicken in a heated wok

Whilst mixing the chicken with the spices and a bit of the olive oil, you can heat up your wok or frying pan without oil. This is a trick I picked up from my favourite chefs – Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. I then used some of the oil and that heated up pretty quickly as it was in a pre-heated wok. Pour the chicken mixture in.

Almost golden brown...meanwhile mouths were watering.
Almost golden brown...meanwhile mouths were watering.
When golden brown set aside and fry the bacon, onions, and peppers. I used half of a green one and half of a yellow one just for the contrasting colours later on.
An irrestible temptation...but let the eyes feast first than stomach later!
An irrestible temptation...but let the eyes feast first then stomach later!
Browned chicken set aside. Yes, it does look really tempting on an empty stomach.

 

 

 

 

 

Poring the browned chicken back into the wok
Pouring the browned chicken back into the wok

This was easy! To blend all the bits and pieces together…almost there…027-1 All the ingredients in including turkey sausage pieces and rice

Yes, it looks pretty sumptuous and full for two people. This is the week’s fare by the looks of it. The recipe said it can feed at least 10 people…well if they are very hungry it may just feed 5!

Looking good...almost time to tuck in
Looking good...almost time to tuck in

Countdown! One eye on the clock and one eye on the wok…

Ready to serve...hungry mouths await
Ready to serve...hungry mouths await

 

As the saying goes, ‘the proof is in the pudding’. Well we dived in and well…

First spoonful...mouth shocked from awesome taste! Thank you ASOPA
First spoonful...mouth shocked from awesome taste! Thank you ASOPA

An hour later, a meal worth waiting for. Go on try it and see what you think. Thank you for a great recipe. Worthy of a toast – glass of Wolf Blass Yellow Label or Eagle Hawk etc anytime…inotherwords make sure you have a great bottle of your favourite red or white (it does not matter nowadays) nearby.