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I love Autumn. It is finally cold enough to wear a hoodie without people giving you strange looks. I am definitely for sweater weather.

In any case, going through a lull in employment before I start up again, I’ve been doing quite a bit of experimenting and cooking of Chinese cuisine. Mostly because my significant other complains that I don’t make any Chinese food that he likes. So I found a great recipe for Meat sung/Lettuce wraps that I’ve been playing around with.

Here’s what I have so far!

Meat Sung / Lettuce wraps

This makes enough for about 4 people if you’re treating it as an appetizer. However, we’ve been treating it as a meal for the both of us so adjust the portions as you see fit. This recipe uses chicken and shrimp but these can be substituted for pork as well. I’ve tried using ground turkey but thought the texture was a bit gritty for my taste. I just prefer chicken and shrimp and I find it a lot less heavy.


Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts (ground/chopped really finely)
100-150g of shrimp (finely chopped)
1/2 tin of water chestnuts (or according to preference)
4 dried shitake mushrooms
Approximately 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1 – 2 stalks of green onion (finely chopped)
Iceberg lettuce
Hoisin sauce & sweet red chilli sauce for dipping
1 tbsp of oil for cooking

Marinade:
The marinade is a bit touch and go as I haven’t really been using proper measurements as I’ve been eyeballing it. So whatever measurements you do decide to use would be dependent on how much meat you’re going to be cooking. For this amount of meat, a part is about 1 1/2 tbsp. I would recommend using a tablespoon measurement first and then adjusting it as you see fit.
1 part  shaoxing wine
1 part soy sauce
2 parts oyster sauce
2 parts kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1/2 part white pepper
1 part white sugar

Recipe:

1. Take the dried shitake mushrooms and put them in warm water to allow them to soften up. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Take the water chestnuts (they’re usually sold in tins in the UK) and drain the water. Chopped them finely. It’s good to have a bit more of them than a bit less as they give the filling its texture.
3. Take the now squishy shitake mushrooms and cut around the stem. Chop these finely.
4. Put the water chestnuts, shitake mushrooms, and mix it with the chicken and shrimp in a large bowl.
5. In the meat mixture, add in the ingredients for the marinade (Note: I usually don’t combine the ingredients from the marinade first. I usually just add it to the meat as it’s easier for me to tell if there should be more of something depending on the consistency).
6. Mix the meat and the marinade ingredients together. Add in the corn starch and mix it again. It should be quite wet.
7. Leave this mixture to marinate for about 30-45min.
8. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add in a bit of oil and wait for it to heat up.
9. Put in the meat mixture. Start stirring and making sure that the meat does not clump together. If it does, break it apart with your spatula.
10. When the meat is slightly cooked but still pink, add in the green onions. Continue to stir and break apart the meat.

11. Make sure the meat is cooked all the way through before removing it from the heat. And you’re ready to serve!
12. Take the iceberg lettuce. There’s two ways you can do this and it depends on how big you want the leaves of the lettuce. You can either cut it down the middle (down the stem) in half before cutting off the stem, or you can simply cut of the stem of the lettuce and use the whole head.

13. Add your favourite dip and you’re good to go! I usually use hoisin and sweet chilli sauce simply because it goes well with the flavour but I have seen different variations as well.

In any case, hope you guys enjoyed it. It doesn’t look all that pretty but tastes amazing and it’s quick and easy to do when you’re short on time. Add a bowl of soup and prawn crackers and you’ll be good to go!

~JGM

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Being unemployed for a while and finally heading into work on Monday, I have been occupying myself with my move to Edinburgh (finally living with the boy!) and playing around with baking things. I’m not an adept baker by any means but I have been craving some cream-cheese filled buns for a while and thought I’ll give it a try. I also have a giant jar of Nutella sooo… the cream cheese became a nutella experiment. 🙂 Anyways, here’s the result of my baking attempt.

 

I got the recipe for the dough from Xawash.com for Honeycomb Bread and altered it a bit. I know I wanted the buns to be fluffy and not hard which was why I used that particular recipe.

Ingredients:

For the dough:
150ml of lukewarm/room temperature milk
2 tsp dry instant yeast
1 tsp of sugar (for the wet ingredients)
3 tbsp of sugar (for the dry ingredients)
2 cups of plain/all purpose flour
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of baking powder
3 tbsp of melted butter

For the filling:
(adjust to your liking, I was eyeing the portions)
1 part Nutella
2 parts cream cheese
1 tsp of vanilla extract (approx) [Optional]

Recipe:

1. With the 150ml of milk, add the yeast and then 1 tsp of sugar. Stir it slightly and leave it for about 10 min for the yeast to activate. It shouldn’t be grainy after.
2. In a mixing bowl, add in 2 cups of flour, the salt, 3 tbsp of sugar, and the baking powder. Mix it the dry ingredients thoroughly.
3. Make sure that the yeast has settled in the milk and activated. Add the melted butter into the flour mixture. Then, add the milk mixture in as well.
4. Mix them together then knead the dough for a few minutes.
5. Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover this with either a cloth or cling film and leave it to rise for about an hour.

6. Mix the cream cheese, Nutella, and vanilla extract (optional) together. Leave this in the fridge to chill.
7. Once the dough has risen, punch it in the middle to release the gas. The dough should be soft and elastic.
8. Separate the dough into balls to the size you want. Then, flatten it to make it a disc.
9. Put the cream cheese Nutella mixture into the middle (I piped it rather than use a spoon since it was easier and gave me more control) and pull the edges of the dough together, pinching it in the middle to form balls.

10. I used egg wash on the top of my buns so that it’ll have a crusty shell but brushing milk over the top would also work to give it a bit of colour.
11. Bake at about 200 degree celsius for about 10-15min. Depending on the size of your buns, it might take longer.

They don’t like very pretty (I should’ve brushed them with milk instead of egg wash) but sure tastes pretty good! I’ve never baked anything bread-y before so I’m quite happy with my first try.

 

~JGM

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This is a bit late since I am already back in Ireland after the trip but I figured a late post is better than no post.

At the end of November, Les and I took a much needed vacation to the sunny coasts of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It was a bit cooler than we expected, especially when the sun wasn’t out. For the three weeks we were there, it was cloudy and raining for about two weeks of it.

When the sun did come out, the place was amazing. And on top of that, I haven’t had so much GOOD FOOD in my life!!! Coming back to Ireland, I found out that I have gained about 5 pounds during the three weeks there. The jeans are fitting a bit tight now and it’s dangerous seeing as how the Christmas season is here.

We were staying out in Los Christianos so it was a bit more relaxed and chilled out (there were a lot of older people there) as opposed to Las Americas where there seems to be a younger crowd.

Crazy sand castle

In any case, while we were there, I celebrated my 26th birthday! Whoooooo! Seeing as how I haven’t had sushi or Japanese food in a while, we decided to head up to a recommended restaurant for a more Japanese inspired menu. The place we ended up in was the Oriental Monkey in Las Americas.

The ambiance is pretty amazing. It is part of four other restaurants/bars that are under the same chain.

Sangria!

We started off with some sangrias (so incredibly traditional!) because I was having a terrible craving for it. The menu is small but a lot of the stuff on it sounds pretty amazing. It is on the more pricey end compared to most other places in Tenerife but it was still a good experience.

While we were waiting for our food, the chef gave us a complimentary aperitif that was really interesting.

It was a variety of different fried cereal chips and two olive-infused jellies. The olive jellies were really intensely olive-y. Les didn’t like them very much but I loved it. It was like eating two olives at once but with no pits! The cereal chips were also lovely. They were very light and crispy. We then ordered the duck spring rolls to share.

It was DELICIOUS. It wasn’t super heavy despite the size and the sauce it came with was a orangey-citrus type plum sauce that has a bit of chillies mixed in to give it an added spicy kick. It was the perfect starter.

Les ordered the duck fried rice main course while I stuck to sushi.

The fried rice dish was amazing and actually quite a surprisingly filling meal. It came with a marinated duck breast that rested on a bed of fried rice that has been cooked with eggs, shallots, mushrooms and Chinese style BBQ pork.
I got the spicy tuna maki and a crunchy salmon-type roll (I can’t remember what it was actually). The spicy tuna was raw while the other one was cooked. It was pretty good and fixed my craving for some sushi for a while. The tuna was pretty fresh and has a good amount of kick in it. The crunchy roll came with a sweet sort of marinade sauce that went well together.

After our dinner, we took a long walk by the ocean back to Los Christianos where our apartment was. Seeing as how it was my birthday, we dropped into one of the local cafes that were still open to pick up a slice of cake! You can’t have a birthday without birthday cake!

It’s a bit sad 🙂 but it does the job!

~JGM

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