Tuesday, September 27

Messages from Manila part two - typhoons and a bit of WTF!?

OK Manila is getting a bit trippy.  You may or may not have heard depending how connected you are to the news - but there's a Typhoon here at the moment.  Locally known as 'Pedring' but internationally known as 'Nesat'.   All the schools are closed, government offices are closed, and so was mine.  I've worked from the 'comfort' of my hotel.  Intermttent electricity and internet access and all...

I took a video from my hotel window this morning..

At lunchtime I decided to go and see if I could find something to eat that wasn't room service.. and I'm not used to this stuff!

This is a real place to eat - 'Cerealicious' they sell takeaway cereals 'with snow milk'

Check out the menu!

Electricity, escalators and aircon went out and most people just kept on working... it was stifling!  Back to work for me, and a good workout of the thighs hiking up all those escalators... I don't want to even think about how sore my legs will be n the morning...

I did pick up a few gifts including some chocolate for the office of course...

And I don't know who chooses the names for chocolates in this country but I'm sure they've only go one thing on their minds....

I couldn't make up this stuff if I tried....

Sunday, September 25

Messages from Manila part one

Well... I know this isn't exactly the Sunday Baking Project but it's a bit hard to post about when I left the photos back in Sydney.... Whoops.

So I arrived in Manila last night. There's a few things I have to say:

To the bloke I sat next to: I am not sure WHY you needed to go to the bathroom 7 times in 8 hours but my advice to you is a)see a doctor about it b)get a aisle seat.

Qantas, Coke Zero is NOT the same thing as Diet Coke. No it is not. If I wanted to the taste of fully-leaded Coke, I'd drink that. For the record most people drink diet coke for the taste.

I have had 6 'Coke Light' since I got here - I will pretend all of them are on account of it being so humid and not because I am a stupid amount of exhausted.
Room service at midnight after you were starving on the plane because you  forgot to put dietary requirements in your booking...lesson learned.
Wow hasn't Manila become so westernised in just the 10 years since I was last time I was here. So much to do, see, buy and EAT.

McDonalds is delivered here. 24 hours. Crikey.

Today after I eventually got up I went shopping in the complex attached to my hotel. Crazy cheap at department stores. Bought swimmers and dresses for Laura and Olivia - finding others to get anything in Eloise's size a challenge not sure why.

Gap is still expensive though.

Went with my longtime friend and work colleague to one of his favourite places for lunch called 2nds on Bonifacio High Street and within momentsof looking at the menu I understood why. It's comfort and hangover food. Essential foodstuffs for hardworking expats!

These were delicious - chicken paste stuff on the inside - sounds gross but it wasn't!
Bacon Chicharon - deep fried bacon with a corn crust... oh my.

This is the truffled mac'n'cheese with Chrorizo which I only ate 2 spoonfuls of...waste!

Enough said right?

Afterwards it was off to the markets where you would find all the knock-offs of the fakes. Didn't find much did get this for hubby..... It's a beanie which only god knows when you wear one here?

Thursday, September 15

Some food porn for you...

I really need to get around to updating my blog roll because this certainly should be on it.

The lovely Michelle Southan, Food Editor of Australian Good Taste put me on to this... good swap I think as I put her onto The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

But here is Sweet Paul.   Paul is a stylist and quite reminiscent of Donna Hay actually.  But it's a bit more 'fun' if that makes sense.  He also issues a free seasonal online magazine - I love it!

 PLUS he does craft.  You've got to love a bloke who's in touch with his crafty side...!

So have you discovered Sweet Paul?
Where do you go for your food porn?

Tuesday, September 13

Seven ingredients to risottolaya!

Add this one to your meal plan.  Right now. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  I saw a recipe for chicken jambalaya in the Good Food UK app and it looked amazing.  Only problem it was laced with capsicum and in our house - capsicum is poison - according to my husband.

I desperately wanted to make it and considered making him something extra so I could.  But in the end I couldn't be bothered and I used some of the base recipe and tweaked it a little to get an almost-risotto but not quite.    But truly it is so easy, kid friendly (not chili hot) and incredibly tasty. All my family included me were begging for seconds - sadly there were none!  So I was promptly told to blog it so 'Daddy can make it when you're at work'...  see, this blog thing comes in handy sometimes...

I used a tagine, but you don't need one if you don't have one.  Just instead of putting the lid on the tagine, put in a casserole dish with a lid/foil and place in the oven.

1 large red onion, roughly diced
3 smoked chorizo sausages, finely diced
500g chicken thighs or breasts, cut into strips
500ml vegetable stock
400g tin diced tomatoes
300ml white wine
1 cup long grain rice

Heat some oil in your pan and soften your onions

Add the chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.  Add chicken and brown, then add vegetable stock and white wine

Lastly add tin of tomatoes and uncooked rice.

Simmer with tagine lid or place in ovenproof dish with lid or tightly wrapped foil in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle it with parsley if you wish.. it will be lovely and saucy!


Friends - do you adapt many recipes to cater to yours or your family's tastes?

Monday, September 12

What happened last weekend....

My life has never been so much like a game of tetris.  Squeezing in everything rushing, rushing rushing.  Last weekend was no exception.

Some things we got up to:
Spent some time in the garden:

We re-planted the opera house garden - celery, tomatoes, chillies, cucumber, lettuce, carrots and zucchini - plus of course nasturtiums to keep the snails out...

Cut back the passionfruit a little...

bought some lattice for $1 a length from Bunnings, it was obviously not perfect, but it will be covered within a year with this lovely little lonely passionfruit...

We did a lot of driving, and as my hubby drove, I got some cooking inspiration from Martha Stewart and Super Food Ideas magazines online...love this! 

And on Saturday night hubby and I got dressed up for the school's trivia night... our table drew the short straw and we were the 'Pimps and Pros' table.  Hubby won a best dressed award as a pimp!

And I went as 'John, the customer'

Dodgy right?  We did raise just under $14,000 for our school, and had a great night, so worthwhile!

Did you do anything out of the usual last weekend?

Sunday, September 11

Heavenly homemade waffles.... don't kill me

My hubby rolls his eyes whenever I declare I *need* an electrical appliance.  I have a good many but I don't have pie makers or hot-dog keepers or anything like that. I am pretty practical.  But a waffle machine has been on my covet list for a while, and I finally bit the bullet and bought one.

If you don't like a lot of appliances taking up valuable storage space I have some good news for you - the Breville Waffle Creations is small enough to make you justify it.  That's what I did!   And perfect waffles every time.  I'm absolutely chuffed!
Everyone owns these Ikea cups, gives you an idea of the size..
So I found this recipe on the internet  and tweaked a little - lovely waffles- no sugar either!  It's what you add that makes a difference... so I've added syrup and fruit but you could use a berry coulis or even chocolate sauce if you're having them for dessert... yum!

2 eggs, separated
1 2/3 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 (400ml) milk
1/2 cup canola oil


After separating your eggs, whip your egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Sift your flour and baking powder.

Into a jug, add milk, oil and egg yolks and give it a good stir.

Pour that into your flour/baking powder

Whisk until smooth (about 1 minute)

Lastly gently fold in the egg white.

Don't beat the air out of it, that's what makes the waffles crispy and light.

Turn on your waffle iron, from experience, set it to almost the darkest setting.
Spoon in your mixture, don't worry if you overfill it the first time (I did) but basically try and get it to reach the rim of the mould.

If you do overfill it, it will spill out the sides, but because of the combination of non-stick surface and the oil content in the batter, it just comes away..

This if my first try, where I set it to a medium setting, it took a while to cook and whilst still yummy it was a bit on the chewy side.

A couple of tries later, and look - gorgeous and you have NO idea how good they are hot with butter and syrup!   What you could do it freeze them like this and pop in the freezer and then toast them in the toaster when you want some quickly...

Drool... go on..

Sunday baking project: Chocolate pecan brownie cookies!

It's been a pretty tough couple of weeks at work.  Everyone's under time pressures.  Everyone's up against some pretty tough challenges but as stressful as this is at times it's a great workplace where people do pull together and support each other when the chips are down.

You can tell the stress levels are escalating with the exponential presence of chocolate, coffee and diet coke on our floor.   This week on my one day off (yes working 4 days a week now it seems...) I decided to treat my colleagues who have been asking me to bake for them for months and make them something chocolately.

I thought about making brownies, and then I thought about making them choc-chip cookies as these never fail to please - but I thought: 'why not combine them?' so I did!

The only piece of advice I will give you is please use good chocolate.  Of course you don't HAVE to but I'm telling you, it makes a difference with the taste.   This makes A LOT of cookies - around 50 - so stash some in the freezer of feed them to a horde... or just divide the recipe in half!


125g softened butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar

2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Cadbury Bournville)
250 quality dark cooking chocolate (I used Lindt Connaisseur)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used hersheys)
100g shelled pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c

In a bowl, combine your butter and sugars together until smooth.

Add your flour and cocoa

In microwave jug, melt your 250g dark chocolate (I do it by breaking it up, microwaving on 50% power for 1 minute, stirring and then putting in the microwave for another minute on 50% power.  If yours isn't melted by the 2nd minute, do another minute on 50% power)

Add your vanilla extract and eggs and stir well.

Try not to eat it all at this point.

Slowly mix your melted chocolate into your dry ingredients

Oh heavens, I will allow you at this point to have a taste.  Try and stop at one teaspoon.

Take off the beater and stir in pecans and chocolate chips

Phwoaar... is all I'm going to say..

Roll into balls on a greased tray and then press them down a little with your hands.

Bake for about 15 minutes - when they are cooked leave them to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.... do yourself a favour and taste-test them now... divine... and fudgy.

Enjoy my friends, enjoy.  Spread the love to your friends and family.... and stressed-out workmates..


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