Saturday, April 27, 2013

Green Curry Trial

Tofu after pressing excess water for about 15 minutes...the longer you press the firmer it becomes

Since being in England, more and more I have been exposed to curries.  This day I decided to try my hand at a Thai green curry.  I am a bit sorry to say that I did not make my curry paste from scratch but rather purchased it.  I do have my reasons for this...firstly these are flavors that are unknown to our household, thus investing in larger quantities of them might not be a good idea.  Second, I wanted to make sure that I actually enjoy cooking and eating the dish (as I am fairly certain it would only be me eating the dish as my Italian husband snubs his nose at almost anything that does not have its origins in Italy - food wise that is.)  So for those of you well versed in curries you may not be so interested, but for others like me who are just dipping your toe in the curry water have a look.

I have a secret to share about cooking rice I learned from an Indian friend of mine, if you soak the rice for about 10 minutes in water before you rinse and begin to cook the rice grains will take less time to cook as the initial soak has already started to penetrate the grains
This was my purchased Thai green curry paste, ingredients listed are: garlic, green chili, onion, lemongrass, salt, black galangal, kaffir lime and spices.  (If you were wondering about black galangal this ingredient is from the ginger family but is much different in taste.)

Here I am pre-frying the tofu before putting into the curry
Coconut milk, a main component in green curry

Cooking the paste in a bit of oil to release the flavors
Afterwards add your main (in this case tofu) and I cut up a yellow bell pepper for texture, normally you would use baby corn
After coconut milk is added 
Finished dish with chili garnish, also use fresh coriander if you have some

Friday, April 5, 2013

Island Tour

A shot of Le Morne from the "other" side

From our boat tour of the east side of the island, we wanted to see more, so we chartered a tour to go more "inland."  Our driver was extremely knowledgable about his home and very proud to be Mauritian.  Needless to say we learned a lot and experienced some great "off the beaten tourist path" places.

A captivating higher view of the coast of the island where we spent most of our time
Coffee beans!  Reminded me of the coffee tour we took in Kauai: Island Coffee
An old volcano that is now an open gorge with the Chamarel waterfall
The Seven Colored Earth(s) is a natural wonder; the different colors may have been a consequence of molten volcanic rock cooling down at different temperatures
Visitors used to be able to walk on the colored earth, but too many people were taking "samples" home with them, so you can now view the area from the fenced in area
Look closely and you can see the pineapple growing, I never knew how pineapple grew until now!
A quick stop at the Rhumerie de Chamarel (rum factory)
These little guys are everywhere and absolutely stunning in color

Unfortunately the factory was not in operation this day, but it was still interesting to see the equipment

Another stunning vista
Guess what this is?  A vanilla bean, again seeing how things I enjoy grow for the first time.
I bought some dried vanilla beans from this little farm, and will be posting later how to make homemade vanilla extract from them
I couldn't resist showing some more sunset photos, truly stunning and I love how each night is different from the previous one

A very special place, very fortunate to have experienced Mauritius

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ile Aux Cerfs

The clear but choppy waters on the east coast of Mauritius

Rather then just be absolute lazy tourists and stay on the resort, we decided to venture out and explore more of Mauritius.  On the recommendation of the conceirge we chartered a small speed boat to explore the east coat of the island.  Because the weather was not really cooperating, we decided to keep close to the coast and more specifically the Ile aux Cerfs (or Deer Island.)  Part of the boat tour was to have a picnic lunch on the beach.  But to my delight I was surprised by what kind of picnic was prepared for us.  One of my favorite activities on a holiday ever!

Very fitting that the name of our boat was "Dolce Vita"

A waterfall that our speed boat had to carefully sneak around rocks to get close to
The beach where we had our picnic lunch
Even though the day was overcast we still had wonderful views
Upon arrival we were served Mauritian coffee...

First course of the "picnic" grilled local fish
Second course lobster...I have never had a picnic lunch like this!
For my vegetarian husband, a pilaf, still very tasty

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mauritius Magnific

Now that our jumping off point is the UK, we decided to take advantage of our proximity to island destinations not so easy to reach from North America.  Thus our decision to holiday in Mauritius over the Easter break.  The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation just off the southeast coast of Africa, (east of Madagascar.)  Not at all what I expected, first from the 10 hour plane trip to the extremely diverse culture we found, (ethnicities range from African, Indian, French and Chinese descent.) It all felt oddly familiar from the Creole cuisine to almost Indonesian influences I seemed to feel and see.  An island uninhabited and initially discovered by Arab sailors, rule passed from Dutch to French and later English.  An amazing feeling for me to be so south of the equator and close to Africa. 

Entrance to our resort, located on the very southwest tip of Mauritius

The UNESCO world heritage site of 'Le Morne' can be seen in the background
The beginning of a beautiful sunset 
Tucking into a Bloody Mary cocktail, getting ready for the "show"

I learned every sunset here has a unique character, and plays out like carefully planned coursed meal, with the viewer needing to savour and reflect on each one

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pollo Fritto

A great item to purchase if shopping in Italy... for some reason these breadcrumbs just taste better because they are FROM Italy 

As I feel winter slowly slipping away (I hope and pray it is!) I am craving a few winter weather/comfort dishes.  This is one that I always look forward to when staying at my mother-in-law's.  I finally watched her make it one day so I could try and replicate it for myself when I need a pick me up at home in England, (which is most of the time!)

Spread some of the breadcrumbs out on baking paper or foil (something you can throw away after using)
Mix pounded out chicken breast pieces with fresh rosemary and 2-3 eggs
Coat the chicken pieces in the breadcrumbs

Coated chicken, ready for frying
For frying my mother in law generally uses peanut oil, she absolutely never uses vegetable oil 

After frying for a few minutes on each side, placing the pieces on paper before serving gets rid of any excess oil.  Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.