Saturday, January 10, 2015

Japanese Duck in sweet sake&soy sauce

Finally got to pop a bottle of some amazing draft Sake we bought from New York. Never though of using Sake as a part of a sweet soy sauce, but I guess we must admit that our knowledge of the Japanese food is somewhat limited. Really can't wait to take that trip to Japan eventually at some point!

Another amazing drink from Japan is the "plum" liquor Umeshu which is actually made of the ume fruit. So far we have tested three different Umeshu's.. all of them have been completely different- some very sweet and sugary, some slightly sour. Delicous with an ice-cube or two as an aperitif!

Japanese Duck in sweet sake&soy sauce

1 teaspoon dashi powder or two bags of miso soup extract
3 dl of sake
1 dl of soy sauce
3/4 dl of mirin
1/2 dl sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or sesame oil)
1 duck breast skinned and fat removed
0,5 dl finely chopped spring onion

In a small saucepan, stir the dashi powder into 1 cup of water until dissolved or add the miso extract to pan as it is (no extra water). Immediately add the sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and bring to boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until syrupy and reduced to max 2 dl, about 1 hour. Transfer all but 1dl of the sauce to a jar and reserve for later use.

In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil over moderate heat until shimmering. Add the duck breasts and cook until almost medium-rare, about 2 minutes per side. Add the reserved 1dl of sauce to the pan and cook the duck breasts for 4 minutes longer, swirling the pan and turning the duck once or twice until glazed. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer the duck to a platter, cut in slices and drizzle with the glaze from the pan. Sprinkle the duck with the spring onion.

Serve with cucumber salad and rice or/and rice-balls filled with a tiny bit of wasabi! Don't forget the sake!

From Sharm to Cairo as the locals travel

Few years after our trip from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo by a local bus we can recommend it (beware of the political situation, though). However, right after the trip we swore we will never recommend it to anyone. It was such an interesting experience that we wouldn't trade it for anything. But wouldn't do it again ;)

Note to the taxi driver written by a hotel receptionist.

Cairo is definitely worth the visit. Smog that literally makes your teeth hurt, constant haggling absolutely everywhere and complete lack of respect towards the western tourists are few of the main things that you'll experience. The incredible tastes of Egyptian cuisine, warm and friendly locals (those who are not trying to sell anything) and all the history make the trip worth all the stress. In Sharm I suggest you pick the best sunlounger by the pool because that's basically the most interesting and exciting thing you can experience there.

From Sharm to Cairo on a local bus

Sharm el Sheikh's bus station is about 15-minute taxi drive away from the Naama Bay. Bus the tickets in advance because the buses are full. We don't have the names of the addresses of the stations but you'll get the info from your hotel or the taxi driver. We just asked the cab driver to take us to the station where we can buy bus tickets to the station where they sell tickets on the night bus to Cairo (note that there are two bus stations in Sharm el Sheikh). We got the tickets for the next day. The bus left at 1AM.

Lunch box

There are two bus stations in Sharm. One sells the tickets but the other one is just for picking up the passangers. The station that sells the tickets also has a transfer service for passangers to the other station.  We bought the tickets and then when it was time to leave we just took a taxi and drove straight to the right station. The road to the station feels long in the middle of the night and it basically goes right in the middle of the desert. There's no light or anything. Then you arrive to a parking lot near a big warehouse type f building. That's the station. Soon you'll see other people and buses, too. 

We don't really know what's the difference between the 1st and 2nd class tickets. Except that in 1st class you'll get these lunch boxes ;)

One ticket costs about 20€. The journey takes about 8 hours.

View from the pyramids over the city.

REMEMBER YOUR PASSPORT! There are two border controls near the Suez canal. The armed border guards will check your passport and visa.

On the way to Cairo the bus was quiet and the ride was peaceful. Also the scenery was very beautiful. Just imagine a looong road in between the mountains, full moon, black sky.

Cairo was a big shock. We arrived there before 8AM. As soon as we stepped out of the bus the haggling began. It was dirty, loud and scary. We didn't even have a map because we thought we can get it at the station. Get a map in advance! You can't buy one at the station. We asked for a local traffic police to help us with the map. They were very friendly and lead us to a hotel nearby. All in all, the traffic police were very friendly. They even got us a (legal) cab.

Take a (legal and metered) taxi to the pyramids of Giza. The illegal ones will definitely rip you off, drive like complete maniacs and treat you like dirt. Also, you'll most likely end up arguing with them about the final price even though you thought you already settled it before.

The journey back to Sharm was a little restless. The TV and radio were shouting all night long and it was very, very cold. Don't forget to take some warm clothes and earplugs. 

Good luck!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tips & Tricks; Beach in Costa Caparica, Portugal

First off, this blog is going from a foodie thing into a full-on sribble of all the best aspects of life. Planning to combine the travel blog which I never updated into this foodie blog, which I also never seem to update and hope that this will bring me back to blogging. 

Let's give it a new Go!

Our favorite beach during our stay in Lisbon was on Costa de Caparica which is situated near Almada. The trip from Lisbon to Costa de Caparica takes about an hour and a half but is definitely worth the trouble. The beach stretches out along the coast, there's plenty of space compared to the little & crowded beaches of Estoril and Cascais. There are also big waves for surfers or those who like a wilder ride. A small downside is the wind which makes the sand fly.

We found his beach by doing some serious googling and also by the help on an old, adorable gentleman in Almada ferry harbour.  However, the easier way is to catch a ferry from the ferry harbour in Lisbon (near the train station). Just get of at Cais de Sodre metro station, go up the escalator, get outside and you'll see the ferry harbour facing the sea. Take the ferry to Cacilhas.

Ferries depart once or twice an hour and the ride takes about 20 minutes. When you arrive to Cacilhas/Almada ferry harbour you'll see the bus station on your left. I suggest you ask the bus drivers for Costa de Caparica because there are several buses leaving to the beach.

You know you've reached your destination when you see a beautiful beach streched out along the coast and the Atlantic ocean!

Note that there are no kiosks or shops near the beach but they do have beach restaurants and cafe's.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Days in Buenos Aires

A beautiful, green city. European inspired architecture and wide streets. Warm people with lots of attitude. Opinionated,  proud of their origins. Political turmoil. Wealth inequality. Steak restaurants. Dry leaves on the road in afternoon heat. Poverty. Strenght. Political Demonstration. We didn't expect tango blasting out of the windows but the steaks we did assume to be extraordinary, which they were.

These are a few things we expected to experience in Buenos Aires. Nothing fancy but nothing overly negative either. We were aware of the poverty issues, more so related to the wealth inequality aspects. Also the politics as the Argentinians do like to strike. Maybe we did rely a little too much on our romanticized idea which was based on various media sources. We were prepared to experience even negative surprizes but shallowness was not one of them, which turned out to be what we experienced the most. Experienced travellers as we are, we were prepared to watch our belongings.

It was beautiful. It was green. And it was also European inspired. In the matter of fact it looked like Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome all combined. Imagine that!

On the other hand, throw in some greedy hands reaching for your handbag. Several pairs of eyes following your every step. Don't you dare taking out your camera or be prepared to find a safe spot to hide. Don't get confused by the occasional friendliness you meet as there are plenty of those who will show you your spot. You know, smack down your wealthy European ass, since you can buy another camera, mobile phone, watch - all of it. Anytime. Can't you? So why not try to rob you. On almost every step you take.

You might try and play it safe. You don't wear any jewellery, not even the plastic bracelet you bought from H&M. You know, not to attract any attention. You take off your wedding ring and try to store it somewhere safe. The safe deposit box in your hotel room is not the place to store it so you try to hide it. You also hide your passport - just in case. You don't walk with your camera, you keep it hidden and covered. You feel uncomfortable. You are stressed and you want to go home. Eventually you just book daytrips via travel agent, sit by the hotel pool and hope you will not get robbed on your way back from the restaurant in the evening. Not that you would have anything to rob off anyway but they would probably still give it a try, you European scumbag.

You are safe! You made it! You only had to file one police report after you forgot to take off that golden necklace and it was ripped off you in the middle of a crowded street on a sunny afternoon. You made it!

Actually, you didn't. It was the staff at your 5 star designer hotel that got you by arranging someone to steal your belongings. Their faces gave them away. Their behaviour gave them away. The police who didn't care to watch the surveillance tape gave them away. They didn't care. Just file a report, they said. Your insurance will cover it, they said.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pumpkin pasta with roasted vegetables

I bought a pumpkin the other day because I wanted to cook it for the first time in my life. First I made an asian pumpkin soup and for the main course I made this pasta with some delicious roasted veggies and goat's cheese!

This is a great pasta, with a slightly unusual taste from the pumpkin.

Pumpkin pasta with roasted vegetables

For two

500 g of pumpkin, peeled, cleaned and cubed
about 1l beef or vegetable stock (I prefer beef)
2 gloves of garlic

Start with boiling the pumpkin cubes in the beef or vegetable stock until soft together with garlic and salt.

Enough tagliatelle for two, about 80g per person
Half of an aubergine
Handful of cherry tomatoes
30g goat cheese
olive oil

Slice the aubergine and lay the slices evenly on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and leave it for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile heat an oven to 225 degrees. Wipe off all the water and add the cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and olive oil. Roast in oven for 15-25 minutes, until slightly brown.

While the veggies are roasting, take about 1/3 of the pumpkin and puree it until smooth and nice. Add  a pinch of salt if needed.

Boil the pasta. When the pasta is ready, pour out most of the water, saving about 1dl and mix the pasta and water with the pumpkin puree.

Serve with roasted vegetables, olive oil, greated goat's cheese and some basil!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

(Salad)Heaven on a plate with beef tagliata

Despite of the rough start, the spring has been gentle to us. With some nice weather, sunshine and the thermometer hitting around 12-15C in March, we must say it feels great!

Lately we have been exploring some new tastes in form of salads, which is not very common in this household. Then again, if all salads were like this...

We have found it slightly difficult to find great meat in the Netherlands. It's not really the quality of the meat but to find it! The pre-packed and cut meat you see on the shelves of Albert Heijn doesn't look very delicious in all that vacuumed plastic and if you don't have the time (or ok, admit that you just don't want to spend your Saturday queuing at butcher's) to visit the local butcher then... well, then you better have a sandwich! We really miss the meat counter at Stockan Herkku! Then again, the meat you find here in the land of green grass and all those ponies cows, is absolutely delicious! 
...If you happen to eventually find some.

Here's a delicious, warm rocket salad recipe we modified a little and added the beef. Originally the recipe is from Jamie Oliver.

The only difficult part of this dish is preparing it all at once. You want to keep the meat and the salad warm yet not let either of them wait (not even for a minute).

Beef tagliata

For two

n. 500 g of Beef tenderloin (in one piece)

Brown the beef on each side for 2 minutes on an evenly hot pan in some good quality butter. 1 minute is more than enough for thinner "ends". Heat the oven to 150 degrees. Wrap the met in foil and stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the beef and roast until thermometer hits 55-degrees.

Keep the beef in foil until served (min 3 minutes, max. 10-15)

Warm rocket salad with beef tagliata

For two

4 Shallots
8 Slices of bacon
4 Sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp pine nuts
4 Big handfuls of rocket

Olive oil
Balsamic (vinegar) dressing

Peel and halve shallots. Heat a frying pan and fry off the bacon until crisp. Remove, add a couple of lugs of olive oil to the pan, and add 4 sprigs of thyme, the onions and a good handful of pine nuts with a tiny pinch of salt. Toss around and fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until caramelized and sweet (not black!).

Put the bacon back into the pan, toss around, then throw everything into a salad bowl with 4 big handfuls of rocket. Drizzle with balsamic dressing – this will make a natural dressing as it mixes with the olive oil. Serve with some shaved Parmesan over the top.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Honey & Chili marinated Quail (suom. viiriäinen) & Vacu Vin Instant Marinater

We recently spent a spectacular weekend in Brussels sightseeing, taking wonderful photo's of the beautiful city and eating absolutely delicious food! One of the highlights of our trips is always visiting the local super market. This time our new favourite became the quail. This bird was not familiar to us since in the Nordics you don't really get quail... anywhere..? So we grabbed a package of nicely packed two quails and stuck them in the freezer until recently when it was the time to explore some new flavours!

New flavours were explored also in the form of the marinade which I made up myself. I looked up a delicious looking picture of grilled quail yet since it was something the blogger ate in the restaurant, he didn't have the recipe... So I made it up myself.

We don't have a picture of our dish... No, actually we do have pictures but they weren't really pretty ,.. so maybe next time. The quails must look golden brown, slightly grilled.


Honey & Chili marinated Quail

For two

2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsb chili flakes
0,5 dl (a splash) Worchesterchire sauce
0.5 dl of olive oil

4 small quails

Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients. Marinade the qails for at least four hours in the fridge.

At least four hours later..

Heat oven to 200C. Put the quails and the mariande in a cast iron dish (with a lid!) with a table spook of butter and place to pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes, don´t forget to season with some additional sea salt and black pepper. Preheat oven again as hot as it gets (grill element) and grill quails until golden/dark-ish brown.

We ate this deliciousness with potato and carrot puree's but I'm still exploring the best alternative for this dish. It was delicious, though!

We absolutely love the Vacu Van Instant Marinater! It marinates the meat in half of the time (probably even faster!) you'd normally have to use and it's so easy to use and clean, too! Amazing product! I wouldn't necessarily marinate it only for minutes, as they claim but it really has saved several hours of our precious time.

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