Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Restaurant Review: Wasabi, Borough High Street, London

Commuting is never fun though in the past I’ve quite enjoyed sitting on a train with a good book or a newspaper – these days however it’s a deeply unpleasant experience. My trains are frequently cancelled or delayed, and I’ve lost count of the number of times Southern has been on strike in the past 12 months.
 
It was one of those days where I had finished late at work, got to London Bridge station to find the train was cancelled and I had a 45 minute wait until the next one. As I wouldn’t get home until about 9pm and it was a nice evening, I decided to make the most of it and get some dinner.
 
Walking back down from the station I passed a Jamie’s bar, and stuck my head inside, but it was packed and I wanted to sit down. I meandered a little way along the street, noticing that all the bars and pubs were crowded and the only other options seemed to be the likes of Pret, or a little place I thought might be an Italian from the name but when I stuck my head in turned out to be a kebab shop.
 

Wasabi seemed the best option as it had seating, a choice of hot or cold food and would be pretty quick. As well as sushi Wasabi sells bento boxes, salads and dishes like sweet chilli chicken and rice. I chose a hot chicken katsu which came in a pot, with rice on the bottom, a piece of breaded chicken in a separate section on top and a container of katsu sauce, for you to mix together as you wish. I like the fact that you can add the sauce however you want it – it had quite a kick but I did end up using all of it.
 
It was very filling and really nice – on a par with somewhere like Wagamama so if you are looking for a takeaway chicken katsu curry you can eat at your desk back at work, I recommend this. I just hope that I don’t end up having to eat dinner on the go because my train is cancelled again!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dr. Oetker Popcorn Fudge Brownies

Monday, June 19, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 25

We've just had the most amazing weekend away for our first wedding anniversary; just got home on Monday lunchtime with the rest of the day off with gorgeous weather to enjoy - why can't life always be like this?!

Monday
Lunch  back home in time for a late lunch from our anniversary weekend away so we will want something quick; beans on toast or similar will do.
Dinner – barbecue: whole roast chicken from the Weber course we did plus grilled broccoli with garlic and chilli
 
Tuesday
Lunch – wfh – salad with rest of chicken from Monday
Dinner – ready meal after circuits class
 
Wednesday
Lunch- sandwich – only have 10 mins to eat before I go to the school where I volunteer
Dinner- barbecued steak with potato wedges / baked potato with sour cream and chives and salad
 
Thursday
Lunch- chicken salad
Dinner- salmon and vegetables for me, chicken grillsteak and mashed potatoes for him
 
Friday
Lunch- chicken salad
Dinner- chicken goujons/ fish and chips
 
Saturday
Lunch- fresh bread, ham, cheese etc (as I will probably have to go food shopping today so can pick up some fresh bread)
Dinner- assuming the weather is still good, homemade pizza on the barbecue, with some sides. Followed by chocolate molten puddings also on the barbecue - both Weber recipes
 
Sunday
Lunch- fresh pasta (ravioli)
Dinner- Lemon chicken from a jar of sauce - as an experiment, if the hubby likes it I will make my own next time! With a naan bread for him, and rice (with veg for me).

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day Shirt and Tie card



This card would be really nice alongside this cake...  but if you don't have time for baking this is a quick and easy make. It's not my neatest - I made it rather on the hoof standing up in my craft room which I had tidied in anticipation of new double glazing being done that week, and didn't want to get out all my craft supplies again and mess everything up!

You can use any pattern for the background - plain, striped, checked - anything that would resemble a man's shirt. This piece of paper is actually an offcut from a piece of wrapping paper!

I cut out the tie not following a template (you can tell, oops) and added a 'happy Father's Day' silver outline sticker; it doesn't show up too well in this photo and it looked better in real life!

I'm sending this to:
Cardz for Guyz - something blue for Father's Day
Always Fun Challenges - for a male or dad
Crafty Cardmakers - Father's Day

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Get Well Soon Card for a True Hero

I finally found a use for that 'hero' sticker.....

Usually when I share the cards I've made, it's so that people might be able to take the ideas and create something similar for the same occasion, should they so wish. But this get well card is a bit unique and I doubt many people have the occasion to send a card wishing a friend a speedy recovery after getting injured while defending innocent people in a terrorist attack. (Though it would also make a good Father's Day card!).

The London terror attacks were scary enough without waiting for news all night of a friend I knew was in one of the pubs involved, knowing nobody could get through on his phone, then fearing the worst after hearing he was among the injured. Thanks to the efforts of some of his friends who called around hospitals to track him down, a few hours later we learned he was already out of surgery and doing well. Now I can't stop welling up not only when I think about what happened but when I see the continued news coverage calling him a hero. Not many people would have the courage to step in and defend someone being attacked - as we later learned, by two of the terrorists - engaging them and  preventing them from moving on to immediately harm others, and sustaining severe injuries himself in the process. Geoff Ho, the nation salutes you.

While waiting to be able to visit Geoff I decided to make him a get well card and found I had the perfect thing.

Years ago I bought a packet of stickers for father's day which had various dad-related words and sentiments. There were a few I thought I'd never use, but I hadn't thrown them out just in case - words like tough guy. I don't think my dad would mind me admitting those don't specifically apply to him - my dad is more mild-mannered.

I suddenly remembered these stickers and found a pre-printed card blank -it looks more pink in this photo but was mainly purple. I mounted a different sticker in each circle and a 'get well soon' die cut in another.

I was able to deliver the card in person when I went to visit Geoff in hospital and I am glad to say he is now back home and on the mend.

 
I'm sharing this card with the Unicorn Challenge where the theme is 'for the guys' and also the Cards in Envy challenge with the theme 'you're the man' and Lawn Fanatics where the theme is 'cheerful get well'.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Weber BBQ Cookery Class at the Abinger Cookery School

Our Weber gas barbecue is my husband's pride and joy. We bought it for our first summer in our new house - I can't remember how much it cost, but I know it was a lot compared to other barbecues, but it's so easy to use and cooks food perfectly - a far cry from the barbecues I remember as a child, where you had to wait hours (or so it seemed) for the coals to burn and then there was a risk that food would be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside... which when you're a child doesn't seem like that much of a big deal (other than making sure you get the sausage that is less burnt than your sister's) but obviously isn't very safe.

With a gas barbecue it's almost instant so we can get home from work at 7pm and cook dinner outside; you can regulate the temperature and also which flames burn so you can cook over direct or indirect heat and they are easier to clean. Some people think they aren't as authentic, and you don't get such a smoky flavour - though these days you can buy things to use on gas barbecues for smoky flavour  anyway.

My husband had a gas barbecue at his family's house for years so when we bought our own home it was a given that we would buy one, and more to the point that we would buy Weber.

For me, one of the best things about our barbecue is that my husband loves to use it. He doesn't cook at all, so I'm the one making dinner after we both get home from work every day, but in the summer he's always keen to grill and ends up being the one to cook dinner. Admittedly I still help but it does give me a bit of a break!

He's really good at cooking the basics - sausages and burgers, and over the last two years I got him to be a bit more adventurous - despite some initial scepticism on his part we were barbecuing fish to make spicy fish tacos, and even pizza, which is surprisingly easy. I wanted to take it up a notch and get my husband to take a barbecue cooking lesson, which I thought he would enjoy.

The Weber Grill Academy

Weber runs a barbecue school called the Grill Academy - it used to be in one location but now they have teamed up with cookery schools around the country so you can find somewhere local to you. I booked us both onto a course at the Abinger Cookery School in Surrey - they do all sorts of other cookery classes which look very appealing.

They do a few Weber cookery courses- charcoal grilling, seafood, winter warmers, essentials and classic. The classic course covers sausages, marinated chicken, burgers and beer can chicken - I know my husband is good at cooking most of that (I've even done beer can chicken at home before in the oven). I wanted us to learn something a bit different so we did the essentials course, which included:

  • Stonebaked pizza
  • Beer can chicken with herb and butter paprika rub
  • Sirloin or ribeye steaks
  • Smoked pork loin & crackling
  • Grilled broccoli with chilli and garlic
  • Coal roasted sweet potatoes with salsa verde
  • Chocolate molten puddings

  • The cookery school is in a converted pub in a pretty little village; it has a few rooms where different classes were taking place at the same time plus an outdoor area where we were. Unfortunately we got caught in terrible traffic and were 45 minutes late after the start of the class, so we missed all the food prep - people were marinating, chopping ingredients and so on. I think my husband didn't mind that we missed that part as he was more interested in the actual barbecuing aspect but it was a shame.

    One thing I noticed that amused me was that of the 15 or so people there, I was the only woman! Most people had come in pairs but all male, either friends, father and son and so on. It's the only time I've ever seen so many men in a cookery class!


We went outside and the tutor explained the different types of barbecues that you can get and different types of cooking. I learnt some useful tips like:
  • Clean the grill by heating it up a little and rubbing with the cut side of half a lemon or an onion. It's best to use lemon if you will be cooking chicken or fish, and onion if you are cooking red meat. Discard the lemon or onion afterwards.
  • Sausages are best cooked over an indirect heat so if you have a gas barbecue, have the flame going on one side of the barbecue and cook the sausages on the other side where there is no flame. This will stop them getting burnt!
You can buy all sorts of bits of equipment I didn't know about like a grilling tray to do small pieces of chicken, halloumi and vegetables; you can also buy these very amusing-looking chicken infusers, to do the beer can chicken I mentioned above.

It's not particularly easy or probably safe to balance a whole chicken with a beer can up it on a barbecue; Weber sells two types of gadget you can use for this.

The first, the Weber Poultry Roaster, is shown in the left of the picture below. It basically holds a can in place - you can use beer, ginger beer, Coke or Fanta, or anything that comes in a can. It holds the can in place inside the chicken and as it cooks, the liquid steams up inside the chicken, keeping it moist and giving it flavour.


The gadget on the right of the photo above is the Weber Style Poultry Infusion Roaster- this one is more expensive but I think would give a better result. Rather than using a can, you pour liquid into the central container meaning you can use anything - orange juice, red wine etc - and there is a cap in the top to stop the steam escaping. This means the juices run down into the tray underneath which you can use for basting.

We watched both types being cooked; the class ran for four hours, with the first hour being spent on prep; this sort of chicken will take about an hour and a half to cook; you can find a similar recipe on the Weber website.

 
The tutor had already made the pizza dough and demonstrated what to do; we then took it in turns rolling out a piece of dough, topping it with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella, and using a wooden paddle to place it on top of a pizza stone on the barbecue. You can find a recipe here. The pizzas only took a couple of minutes to cook and were really good.

Here's the tutor demonstrating:


And here I am stretching and tossing my pizza dough!


My finished pizza - I can never seem to roll out dough into a neat circle!


The steaks were marinated or rubbed with something, I wasn't sure, and simply placed on the barbecue. My husband got to help the tutor by turning the steaks... and that was as hands on as he was able to get in the whole class, which is a shame - it was more a case of watching demonstrations than actually cooking.

The pork loin had also been rubbed with something and was cooking in a roasting basket that I haven't seen before on a barbecue - it's a useful bit of kit as you can cook a large joint of meat to feed a lot of people.

I don't recall seeing the broccoli being grilled I don't think, and the sweet potatoes were simply wrapped in foil (probably rubbed with salt and oil) and put on the barbecue.

We also watched the tutor cook a paella that a couple of the other attendees had helped prepare and they helped cook. I didn't know you could do paella on the barbecue - some Weber barbecues have a grill with a removable circle in the middle and you can take this out and put a pizza stone in (though we managed fine by putting the pizza stone on top of the grill)  or you can put a big round dish like this into the gap. The pan is very large though so this isn't something you would cook for only a couple of people, but it seems a really nice alternative to a traditional meat-feast barbecue if you are having non-meat eaters or just want to do something different. Here's a recipe for a seafood paella from the Weber site.


Once everything was cooked it was sliced up and we got to try a bit of everything - it all tasted fantastic and we have definitely got lots of ideas for our next barbecue!
 

 


While we were eating the tutor made dessert; it was a shame we weren't involved in the prep or even the cooking as he did explain afterwards what he'd done but we were too busy eating at the time! Did you know you could make chocolate fondant on the barbecue? I didn't! Here's the Weber recipe - they are really good!


 
We both really enjoyed the barbecue course and learnt lots of useful little tips as well as some different things we can cook on the barbecue. My only criticism was that it wasn't very hands on - for the money (£99 per person) I would have expected a bit more actual cooking and less time just watching. When I've done barbecue cooking classes before, we had one barbecue to two or three people and everyone cooked their own food - I know this wouldn't be possible with the bigger joints of meat that we did but a group of a dozen or so people watching one man cook isn't what I imagined. Having said that this was a really good course and I do recommend it if you are either new to barbecuing or considering whether to buy a Weber (as a couple of people on the course were - as we used three or four types of their grills) or if like us you want to expand your barbecue cooking repertoire.
 

 

 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - week 24

Not many meals to plan this week as my husband is unusually out a lot and then we are away at the weekend, leaving the cat in the company of the cat sitter. I'm really looking forward to the weekend as it's our first wedding anniversary and we are going back to our wedding venue and where we spent our wedding night. The weather is forecast to be great so it should be a good weekend!

Monday
Lunch - I'm working from home as we are having double glazing and new doors being put in. For lunch I will have grilled prawns with passion fruit (pictured right).

Dinner - my husband is out at a work event so I will have a stir-fry

Tuesday
Lunch - working from home again. Potato rosti with smoked salmon and poached egg
Dinner - home late (8.30) after circuits class so a Weightwatchers ready meal

Wednesday
Lunch - back at work - salad of some kind
Dinner - hopefully the weather will be nice for a BBQ with my husband

Thursday
Lunch - salad again
Dinner - my husband is at another work event; I'll have the rest of the stir-fry

Friday
Lunch - salad again
Dinner - fishcakes and mashed potato for me, chicken in breadcrumbs for him

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