All posts in February 2018

Grow your own food

The prospect of creating an edible vegetable garden can be all-consuming for most people, it’s easy to get over excited. Spurred by the overwhelming urge to become a wild goddess, you find yourself up at all hours, glass of wine in hand designing your mini oasis.

You may have good intentions but for the time poor, possibly a misguided effort?

My advice? Start off small, if you have young children, get them involved, it’s not hard to get started and it doesn’t take much effort.

Even before children start school you can begin to educated them though projects that highlight the origins of their food. You will most likely find, with a hand in the growing process they might just be inclined to try something new, maybe even something green! Shock horror

If your limited with space, why not join one of the many Community garden projects or start by planting a mini herb garden. You’ll save loads of money and you will be rewarded with a generous crop in no time at all.

Dig around in your recycle box and pull out some tins. Whatever you have is fine, big or small.

Wash and sand back any sharp edges. Get a nail and punch a hole in the bottom for drainage.

Fill the cans with seed raising mix and press down lightly to compact the soil. Sow seeds or seedlings such as basil, thyme, chilli, parsley, mint or any other herb you like to use regularly in the kitchen and water in well. Keep in a shaded area until they settle in then move to a partly sunny window sill or kitchen area.

Within a month you’ll be making pesto till the cows come home. If you end up with a bumper crop just cut your herbs 5 cm from the base and tie with string and hang upside down to dry. Drying herbs has the benefit of making the kitchen smell lovely and can be utilised for months to come in soups, pizza, teas and stews.

Last year my bumper spearmint crop kept the whole office busy brewing delicious tea for months. This year my basil seems the happiest so the family seem to be eating pesto with everything, pesto pasta, pesto mayonnaise, pesto butter, chilli pesto, you name it!

As my grandmother would say, there’s are certain satisfaction and reward in growing your own produce, be it a few herbs or a whole vegetable patch, gardening can certainly be soothing to the soul and a truly rewarding for the heart.

Chinese New Year celebrations

This Friday (February 16th) is Chinese New Year, variously known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New year. Chinese New Year is centuries old and is the most significant holiday in China.

The city streets fill with festivals, arts, entertainment, markets, dancing and fireworks spectacles. Chinese New Year celebrations encompass a vibrant and energetic display of colour, culture and tradition.

What better way to partake in the joy of Chinese New Year than with our divine Chinese braised pork bao buns  A soft, pillowy steamed sleeping bag of bun encasing salty and sticky braised and pork belly, pickled carrot, cucumber, shallot, coriander and sweet Hoisin. New to the weekly menu and available this week only, be sure you don’t miss out!

We also have a delightful new addition to our Family Favourites menu for this month only. Delicious chicken and vegetable dumplings. These ‘pot stickers’ are a most important Chinese New Year food as they are symbolic of both plenty and new beginnings for the coming year. As perfect snack to fill hungry teenagers, cook them straight from frozen and enjoy. Little fingers will love them too, with dinner sorted in 10 minutes you can take back some time for yourself.

If you plan on celebrating, why not take the opportunity to gather some friends and have a giggle re-creating our recipe for Super Stretchy Chinese Noodles.  A real treat to make and lots of fun.

Super stretchy chinese noodles

Noodles are one of the most important components of Chinese food culture. No matter whether ordering a hot bowl of noodles in a restaurant or purchasing freshly made noodles to cook at home, it’s one of the cheapest ways to have a fast, fulfilling and hearty feast.

Careful not to break them! Unbroken noodles represent a long life, and some say it’s even bad luck to cut them!

INGREDIENTS:

400g Plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

280ml water at room temperature.

METHOD:

  • Combine the four and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine
  • Slowly blend in the water with a pair of chopsticks, until the water is integrated and there is no dry flour left
  • Kneed the dough, it should be quite soft and sticky so make sure you dust your hands lightly with a little flour
  • Kneed for 10-15min further until the dough is springy and smooth
  • Dust a bowl with dry flour. Transfer the dough to that bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest at room temperature for a least 2 hours.
  • Once rested divide the dough into 4 pieces. Dust the bench and roll each piece out to a thickness of 5mm with a dusted rolling pin
  • Cover each piece with plastic and let rest for 1 hour.

TO PULL THE NOODLES

  • Bring a medium pot to the boil
  • Take one dough sheet out to work with and slice into strips 2cm wide with a flour dusted sharp knife
  • Pick each strip up at one end and pull to form a very long noodle, drop into the water quickly and repeat with a quarter of the noodles.
  • Boil each batch for 1 min then fish out with a strainer and toss in a little splash of sesame oil
  • Work the rest of the dough in this manner
  • To serve just dip the strained noodles into boiling water to heat