Homecooked Thai style stir fry

Thai Stir Fry

This is a recipe I cook quite often, it was inspired by visits to Sais’ Thai in the Oxford Covered Market. Though it has similarities to the dish I had at Sais’ Thai, it’s not quite the same, actually it’s quite different, but I don’t usually use the ingredients they do.

I cook some cubed pork belly in the oven, for about twenty minutes I then remove from the oven and stir fry in a wok with some soy sauce and fish sauce, along with finely chopped garlic and ginger. You could add chilli as well, if you like a bit of heat in your stir fry. I then take a range of vegetables, including but not always limited to: ribbons of carrot, pak choi, red cabbage, courgette, mushrooms (shitake and brown), baby corn, and onions. These are added to the wok. And cooked for a couple of minutes. I then add spinach and basil. I would prefer to use Thai Basil, but I have had trouble either finding it locally or growing it in the garden.

The dish is then served with a sprinkling of cashew nuts. It works well with rice, but I have also served it with noodles as well.

Nice Pizza

To celebrate a birthday we decided to end up at Zizzi in Cabot Circus. The place was busy, and we had to wait about ten minutes for a table. Well to say the place was busy, was a bit of a poor description. There were plenty of free tables, but I think they were short-staffed, so couldn’t serve all the tables, or cook the food. Regardless of the reason, there were empty tables, and we were shown to our (small) table.

The welcome was warm and friendly and it was easy to order our food. Our dietary requirements were taken care of and we pursued the menu.

I went with the Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket.

Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket

The pizza was cooked well and there was an abundance of toppings, even so I would have liked a but more artichoke. The pesto was nice, and I quite like fresh rocket on my pizza, I feel I am eating something healthier than it actually is.

I really enjoyed my pizza, there is something consistent about the quality of the food and the service at Zizzi, which means I go there a lot, more than other chains. Having said that, looking over the blog, I realise not only am I going to Zizzi a lot, I am also basically eating the same pizza each time I go.

Time for a tasty pizza (again)

It was a nice pizza

Rusty Pizza

I think it’s time for a change, not just from Zizzi, but also from pizza.

That was an unexpected delight

It was a Thursday and I was in Bristol and it was the week that the Temple Quay Market was on in Temple Quay. Sometimes in the winter, inclement weather conditions can mean that the market doesn’t run. On this Thursday though I was lucky, the market was running.

I hadn’t thought much about what I might have, they usually have a really good spread of stalls and food choices. As I walked around I considered what to have, and then in an unexpected twist I nearly bumped into the SheSellsSushi stall. Well that was that I decided I would have something from Lisa’s stall.

I have had quite a few meals from her stall from the Finzel Reach Market on a Friday in Bristol, but as I wasn’t expecting her to be there, it was an unexpected delight that her stall was at Temple Quay. It was a double delight, as the last time I went to her stall at the Finzel Reach Market, it was rather late and she had sold out of virtually everything. This time I was early and there was all those wonderful choices.

I went once more with the Bento Box, and had the delicious Beef Donburi. This is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

Beef Donburi, succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. I always love the care and attention that Lisa pays to each and every dish. This isn’t just thrown togther, this is food artistry made with love and passion. The result is amazing cooking and delicious food.

I once more went again with the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside I had the tempura chicken, known as the Finzel Flapper, complete with spring onions and Japanese mayo.

he steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside is chicken thigh deep fried in a crispy tempura batter and served with a range of sauces and garnishes.

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun. She also does a pork belly hirata bun, which is just as tasty, but I like the textures you get with the tempura chicken.

So though I went with my normal order, of the bento box, I also added a side order of Takoyaki in octopus and duck varieties. These are freshly cooked on the stall and always look really nice.

dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes

They are covered in a range of sauces and garnishes, and I couldn’t tell you what they were, but thankfully Lisa on her website describes them as dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, Japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes.  I did enjoy these and I was quite full, as might be expected.

Now though as the summer weather has gone, I might just try out the ramen next time. Oh and one day must try the sushi.

Tasty coffee in the hustle and bustle

In the midst of shopping decided to stop at Paterisse Valerie in Cribbs Causeway for a quick coffee. Actually we didn’t want a quick coffee, what we wanted to do was take a break from the crowds, sit down and have a coffee. We did consider going to Pret a Mange, but the queue was really long, and at least with Paterisse Valerie we could sit down and chat while we waited and while we waited for the coffee.

We ordered a few drinks, but I went with a flat white, whilst my eldest went with a latte.

For a French sounding place I feel I really should have had a cafe au lait, but the reality was that no such coffee was on the menu.

The flat white was strong and intense with the smoothness of the milk offering a nice contrast.

The place was busy, so service was slower than I might like, but we spent the time chatting, so it wasn’t an issue.

Time for a toastie…

Looking for a reasonably quick lunch, I decided to venture to Cafe Rouge at Cribbs Causeway. Parts of this venue are quite nice, those tables hidden away in the inside, the tables out towards the entrance are less cosy and it feels more like a service station or typical food court than a French bistro.

My phone contract often provides me with special offers, one of which time was with Cafe Rouge where I could have any burger or croque sandwich for just £5.

I did think initially to have a burger, but decided to have a croque toasted sandwich.

I went with the classic grilled Emmental cheese sandwich on sourdough with béchamel sauce, served with frites. The filling I chose was Portobello mushroom with baby spinach, goat’s cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

I went with the classic grilled Emmental cheese sandwich on sourdough with béchamel sauce, served with frites. The filling I chose was Portobello mushroom with baby spinach, goat's cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

I did think the béchamel sauce was overdone. I was expecting a bit more crunch to the bread, but overall there were some nice flavours.

The fries were a little overdone for my liking and a little bit too much salt.

Service was friendly and welcoming. Maybe a little too attentive, for example, I had literally just taken my first bite when I was asked how was my meal!

Overall it was a nice quick lunch, quite tasty, not perfect, but good value for money.

Time for a tasty pizza (again)

When it comes to chains, I really do like eating at Zizzi. Unlike some other chains, I don’t think I have ever had a need to complain. The branch at Cabot Circus is very nice and I have been there quite a few times. Despite the openness of the restaurant it doesn’t feel crammed with tables like a canteen, even when it gets busy.

We had a warm welcome and we could choose where we wanted to sit, which was nice. 

There is quite a varied menu, but in the end I went with the Classic Pinoli Pizza. This has goat’s cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

Classic Pinoli Pizza. This has goat's cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

Checking the blog I realised that I had been to this branch of Zizzi in Bristol back in March and had ordered the same pizza then as I had this time.

Back then it was tasty and this time it was equally tasty. Last time I had it on a rustica thin and crispy base, this time I went with the doughy classic base.

The service was quick and efficient, but we weren’t rushed at all.

Gluten-Free Biscuits Recipe

Gluten-Free Biscuits

This is a simple recipe for gluten-free biscuits. You could of course use the same recipe with regular flour.

They are quick to make and quick to bake.

Ingredients

1 standard egg.

Take the same weight of the egg in cold butter.

Twice the same weight of the egg in plain gluten-free flour.

Same weight of the egg of sugar.

Vanilla essence.

Take the flour, and add the cold butter, cut into small cubes. Combine the butter and flour by rubbing the butter into the flour, until there are no lumps and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 

Then stir in the sugar. 

Add the egg and vanillla essence combine until the biscuit dough is smooth.

How you could take spoonfuls onto a banking sheet, but what I do is wrap the dough in cling film and cool in the fridge for a fair few hours. This firms up the dough, so then you can roll it into a 2cm roll of dough and then slice it into 1cm rounds. 

These rounds can the be placed onto a baking sheet or tray.

One tip I have is to crunch up and screw the baking parchment into a ball and then unscrew it. This means it lies flat on the baking tray. The biscuits will spread to about twice their original size, so leave plenty of space around each

Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 180 degrees for about six minutes until the edges are brown.

Place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy.

I knew it was going to be sweet…

Walking around the Haymarket in Edinburgh, there was quite a wide choice of places to eat. My first choice was the Le Marche Francais, however that wasn’t open that evening.

There were quite a few Vietnamese places, but in the end I chose the HauHan.

“Serving up British style Chinese food inspired by the dishes of Hong Kong.”

There was a lovely warm welcome from the staff and as the place was quite empty I had the choice of tables where to sit. Inside is clean and tidy. I liked the Hong Kong style decor, it was elegant and simple. There was nothing pretentious about this place.

From Sunday to Thursday they do a meal for one deal, where you get a starter, a main and a side, served with prawn crackers.

I started with the Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

These looked homemade and you could taste the prawns. They were for me slightly too oily and greasy, but even so I did eat all four slices. The sweet chilli dip was rather nice, I thought it might be sticky and sweet, but it wasn’t.

For my main, I chose the Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions. I had it served with a portion of Jasmine Rice.

Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions.

This was a good size portion of food and rice. There were no green peppers, but there were onions, red peppers and carrot. The chicken portions were crispy and tasty. I liked the scattering of sesame seeds. The sauce was sweet with only a hint of sourness. I kind of expected that with a sauce containing orange and lemon.

It reminded me of Chinese takeaway food, but without the excessive salt and grease that you sometimes have. The portions weren’t too small, nor were they excessive.

Service was excellent, with friendly staff, not over-bearing and efficient.

Overall it was a really nice meal and I enjoyed it.

Time for a quick, nice espresso

quick, nice espresso

Arriving at Weston-super-Mare railway station for my train to Manchester I had some time for a quick coffee.

I usually catch my trains from Worle station, I am still astounded that for what is a relatively small town, Weston-super-Mare has three railway stations. The main station at Weston-super-Mare which is on a loop from the main line. This opened in 1841.

There is a halt further down that loop called Weston Milton. This station opened in 1933

Despite having two stations, a third station, Worle Station was opened in 1990.This was the fourth station to serve Worle, the previous station to serve Worle closed in 1964.

What is nice is that the mainline trains to London from the West start their route as commuter trains from Taunton or Weston to Bristol and stop at these smaller stations. In the olden days (okay a few years ago) when the London trains were HSTs, the trains were too long for Worle platform so only four coaches would be able to open their doors, the same happens today with the new nine coach Inter-City Express Trains (IETs).

Weston-super-Mare railway station

Anyhow I was at Weston-super-Mare as I was catching a CrossCountry service to Manchester and this train calls at Weston-super-Mare and then calls at Bristol Temple Meads, so it doesn’t call at Worle.

At Weston-super-Mare station there are two cafes. One which has been there for a while is a typical old school station cafe and I have never really been enamoured with the refreshments available from there, I have had the odd cup of tea, but usually I just avoid it. The other new cafe is much more my cup of tea… though I usually drink coffee. Actually to call it new, just shows I am getting old, as it had been there quite a few years now. I can’t quite remember when it opened, but I have had some nice coffee from there, and it’s also a nice place to sit and wait for the train. I think it has changed hands a few times as well between when it opened and now.

So this morning having about fifteen minutes before my train I decided to pop in and have a quick coffee. They have stools, sofas and chairs. The decor is rather quirky with old trunks serving as tables and lots of old wood. The walls (which I remember once they had artwork on the walls) are covered in coffee names and slogans.

I chose a simple single espresso. What is nice is that when drinking in, they serve their coffee in a proper china cup. This was great coffee, strong, intense and delicious. I could have had another one, but my train arrived.

I actually wanted the chicken…

So after going for a walk over my lunch break I decided after thinking about it for a while that I fancied something spicy, so decided to visit Nusa Kitchen.

Nusa Kitchen

It’s at times like this that I really should read my own blog, as on my previous visit there I wasn’t impressed.

My initial reaction on opening the box was one of disappointment, I was expecting grilled chicken, it wasn’t grilled, well it might have been but there was no grilled look or flavour. The sauce was scattered across the chicken, however it lacked flavour. I couldn’t detect the coconut in the coconut rice, but it was otherwise cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. Even with the disappointment of what it looked like, alas the eating experience didn’t change my perspective, and it was a disappointing meal overall. I don’t think I will return.

One of there reasons I blog about my eating experience is to remind me not to buy and eat at places I had eaten at.

So forgetting about my last experience completely I went there again. I vaguely remember eating from there before, but I couldn’t recall exactly what I had ordered and what it had been like… simple solution read my own blog!

I chose the Vietnamese Chicken, fragrant flame grilled chicken served with coconut rice and salad, which is what I had before and was disappointed with.

This time I was disappointed again, not because it wasn’t any good, but I never got any, as they had sold out of the chicken.

Looking over the menu I went with the Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms.

Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms

The tofu was interesting, but the mushrooms lacked flavour.  The sauce was scattered across the tofu and the mushrooms (as before) and it also lacked flavour. The menu describes the rice now as just rice, no mention of coconut, this was cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. 

However as before the overall experience was this time just okay. I must remember both this meal and the previous one, next time I go out for lunch.