Sunday, 4 December 2016

Globecooking recipe : Java Rice (Philippines)

You may remember I showed you this photo in an earlier blogpost, but after sharing the recipes for binagoongan talong and banana ketchup, I'm back to tell you how to make the final part : java rice.

This used one ingredient from the Philippines-themed Kitchen Trotter box - rocou seeds, or annatto, which I had previously discovered in a Vietnam-themed globecooking box and a recipe for bo kho, Vietnamese beef stew. As well as imparting a slightly peppery flavour, it gives the rice a wonderful yellow colour.

Java Rice

ingredients :

1tsp rocou seeds
2tbsp banana ketchup (optional - click through for the recipe)
300g basmati rice
3tbsp melted butter
2tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2tbsp soy sauce
salt, pepper

Cook the rice in boiling salted water. To do this the Asian way, soak it in cold water, use your hands to swoosh it around and release as much starch as possible then drain. You can repeat this two or three times if a lot of starch comes out. Then put cold water in the pan to cover the rice with 1-2cm of water above the rice level then pop on a lid, leaving a gap for the steam to escape, and turn on the heat. When the water has completely evaporated, the rice should be ready. If it's still slightly undercooked, completely cover with the lid and leave to continue cooking in its own steam.

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan and toss in the rocou seeds. Cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until the oil becomes a vivid orange colour then discard the seeds. Cook the crushed garlic cloves in the oil until they are slightly browned. Mix in the melted butter.

 Transfer the cooked rice to the pot with the garlic and oil and give it all a good stir. Add the banana ketchup and soy sauce, stir until the colour is uniform then season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is definitely much more interesting than normal plain rice in terms of taste and colour.

If you fancy trying some more Philippine cuisine, how about turon or sinigang soup?

Madhouse diaries : The Father Christmas Parade

Yesterday was the day that the Christmas festivities kicked off in Dunkirk and to start things off with a bang, there was a Father Christmas Parade at dusk. Just before the sun went down, and after manically driving round trying to find a parking place, we started off at the town hall, which has been embellished with festive red lights for the Christmas season.

 We wound our way through the forest of four hundred Christmas trees that have been set out on the square in front of the town hall, looking at the illuminated displays, including this sparkling postbox for Father Christmas.

There were a handful of wooden chalets dotted around the paths with festive displays in them. They were cute enough but not a patch on the enchanted village that we've had for the last few years, with animated teddy bear displays. We didn't queue up to see Santa today because we had to go and find a spot to watch the parade but we'll be back another day. I definitely want a go on the cool Santa sleigh ride too - a man on a quad bike in a reindeer onesie pulling a fake sleigh around the town !! It's got to be done !

As it was now quite dark, it was very hard to get decent photos because either you left the flash on and they came out really dark like this one, or you turned it off and they came out blurry and unfocused because of the moving lights. You get the idea though !

 The parade opened with some dancing cyborgs !

Hot on their heels were some steel band musicians heralding the arrival of the stilt walkers.

 Their costumes were beautifully made and the lights looked really effective in the deepening gloom.

Some clockwork soldiers, gingerbread men and assorted toys were next to march past.

 The costumes just kept getting bigger and better.

We were at the start of the route and the participants were full of enthusiasm, really playing to the crowd, but I bet by the end, they had severe arm and leg ache !

 There was no guessing what would be appearing next - after the snow queen-esque stilt walkers, there was a brass band with the instruments covered in lights and the players all dressed up as animals !

Then some penguins ...

and snowmen ...

... and a strange locomotive.

 The next part was my favourite - a herd of giant luminescent bears. That didn't sound right so I just went to check - did you know that it's a sloth or a sleuth of bears ? No, neither did I ! 

They look brilliantly realistic but are just made of transparent material over a wicker frame.

 The guys underneath control them with sticks attached to their arms.

 They're really lifelike, especially when they lean out over the crowd in a silent roar !

The squeals of delight and cheers from the crowds announced the main attraction, closing the parade - the man in red, who'd swapped his usual sleigh for a boat !

 Night night Santa - see you soon !

#MySundayphoto #SundaySnap 4/12/16

The Father Christmas Parade that we went to see yesterday - more coming up in my next blogpost later this morning

Sunday SnapOneDad3Girls

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Our ComeRound #MyKindaBook party #MKBParty

Last weekend (how can it only have been seven days ago ? Life has been so hectic lately that it seems absolutely ages ago !) there was a great deal of excitement at The Madhouse because we were hosting a ComeRound #MyKindaBook party.

Sophie was certainly the hostess with the mostest because we had received a fabulous party pack, stuffed with goodies to share out with her friends. The books target a young female audience and they'd certainly got into the teenage girl mindset perfectly, judging by the squeals of delight as they discovered Lovehearts sweets, shiny pink pencils, Galaxy hot chocolate, Soap & Glory blush and hand cream, badges, notebooks and more.

This was all about the books though and they were laid out for everyone's perusal, along with bookmarks and posters. There were three titles being showcased.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell : A love story about opening your heart by Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park.

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard :  Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie - confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne's past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge - The deliciously creepy Costa Book of the Year by Frances Hardinge, now with a striking celebration cover look. The Lie Tree, winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2015 and the Sunday Times Children's Book of the Year 2015 is her seventh novel.

It was lovely to see that the girls weren't just interested in the sweets and pampering treats, and that they were also attracted to the books. I'm a total bookworm so anything that encourages a new generation of avid readers is definitely a god thing in my books (no pun intended !).

MyKindaBook, run by Macmillan Children's Books UK, is THE place to discover upcoming YA reads, authors, and gain access to exclusive content. If you like advent competitions (and judging by my twitter and facebook feeds, everbody does !), head over to the #12daysofMKB to try your luck every day until 12th December

Disclosure : We received a party pack containing books, promotional materials and goodies to share out. If you want to register to take part in upcoming parties, head over to ComeRound

Globecooking recipe : Binagoongan Talong (Philippines)

On this intriguing plateful, you have three of the recipes from last month's Philippines-themed Kitchen Trotter box - Java Rice, a recipe I will be sharing shortly, the surprising Banana Ketchup (click through to that recipe if you dare !) and the main part of the dish, Binagoongan Talong, which was described in the recipe as a colourful dish combining the surf and turf flavours of the Philippines.

The fishy side of the flavour comes from Shrimp Paste, an ingredient that is very popular in Asian cuisine but I am really not keen because I just can't get past the smell. It absolutely reeks ! I therefore used the tiniest amount which didn't really impart any flavour to the dish - but I had no regrets !

The original recipe uses 250g raw pork belly, but as I had two lonely looking slices of roast pork left over from the day before, I used those. It could have done with a bit more meat but I just bulked it out with extra courgettes.

Binagoongan Talong 

ingredients :

2tsp shrimp paste (I used 1/4 tsp !)
2 courgettes
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 ripe tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
250g pork belly
30ml cider vinegar
250ml water
1tsp sugar
1 red chilli
salt, pepper

Heat the oil and fry the courgettes until they go slightly brown. Remove to a plate (and drain on kitchen paper if necessary).

Put the garlic and onions in the pan, with an extra glug of oil if needed.

Toss in the cubed pork - mine was precooked but you can use raw pork too. You just need to cook it for longer. Hold your nose and add the shrimp paste ! Cook until the pork starts to release its fat and go slightly brown.

Add the roughly chopped tomatoes to the pot.

Cook, pressing down with a wooden spoon, until it all starts to reduce. Pour in the vinegar and bring to the boil. Leave on a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes without stirring.

Add the water, sugar and chilli, stir to combine then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the pork is cooked and tender. (I left mine for about 5 minutes as the pork was already cooked, and added less water.) 

Throw in the courgettes and cook until the liquid has reduced and the courgettes are soft but not soggy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I found it slightly bland (probably because I didn't put in enough shrimp paste) so I added a squeeze of sweet soy sauce to perk it up. It wasn't bad but I did think the vinegar ended up as the dominant flavour.

Fancy trying more Filipino dishes? How about Turon, Banana Ketchup or Sinigang Soup?

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky as it used up some leftover cooked pork and couple of overripe tomatoes.