Irresistible

And so the not-so-prodigal author of the blog returns.

I’ve been eating out a lot or just eating bad junk at home so I decided it was time to return to home-cooked meals. The weather’s warming up at last although the past week has been horribly wet and humid. For the first time in my life I’ve been dealing with the horrible symptoms of hayfever and it’s been torture! I’ve been catching up on sleep so that’s the only upside because I’m finding the sneezing and sniffly nose so very unsexy.

Today for lunch I decided to make some chicken nuggets. Last night before heading out I marinated two chicken breasts, and it was ready to bake this afternoon.

Sunday Lunch

Sunday Lunch

It was a little bit of everything. Wedges (frozen and baked), the nuggets, Sriracha mayonnaise (uh-huh you heard me right!) and a salad of leafy greens, toasted walnuts and a honey-red wine vinaigrette.

My favourite part of the meal

Chicken nuggets

Chicken Nuggets

I adored these nuggets and they were a bit of a random whim of fancy so I’ll try to think of the quantities and ingredients used. If you watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution or if you have half a brain, you’d know that most of the chicken nuggets you get from the frozen food section contains a lot of disgusting junk like chicken skin, cartilage and fat. Good stuff when you have the munchies or if you’re drunk and starving, but not exactly the most healthful stuff to eat. I happen to love nuggets but I love them more when I make them from scratch.

Tender Oven-Baked Chicken Nuggets
Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
5 Tbsp Greek yogurt (or more if needed)
Paprika
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper
Panko breadcrumbs

1. Put the chicken pieces, yogurt, paprika, garlic, thyme and seasoning in a glass bowl, and toss to coat. You don’t have to remove the leaves from the thyme, I just chucked it in on the stem. I also went pretty heavy on the paprika but I happen to love the taste of it so go light on that if you’re unsure. You can taste the yogurt (then spit it out!) to check the taste.

2. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

3. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Toss chicken pieces in a bowl of Panko breadcrumbs to completely cover each piece and place on a sheet tray. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

4. Turn the grill/broiler on and leave the nuggets in for a further 3-5 minutes or until lightly brown. Mine didn’t seem to want to darken up though!

5. Serve with Sriracha mayonnaise, a salad and potato wedges. Or whatever you want, but that’s what I did!

So what you’ll be needing to make mayonnaise is a stick blender. I suppose you could use a whisk and I’ve done that before and my arm almost fell off. The stick blender method takes about a minute so I’d go with that option if I were you!

Here’s what you’ll be needing. You can use lemon or lime juice instead of vinegar, though. I mixed a bit of both but I’ve done with either as well.

Sriracha Mayonnaise
Makes 200ml mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
2-3 tsp lemon/lime juice or white vinegar
170ml olive oil or canola oil (something with a very light flavour so canola oil is preferable but I ran out)
A pinch of salt
1.5 tsp Sriracha hot chilli sauce

1. Place the egg yolk, salt and acid (lemon/lime juice or vinegar) in a small bowl, glass measuring jug or the container that came with your stick blender. Blend it until it just comes together.

2. Pour the oil in a steady, thin stream whilst continuously blending. DO NOT STOP. You can jiggle the stick blender about or move it up and down. When you see the mayonnaise start to thicken and you feel like it’s the right consistency that you want, you can stop pouring the oil. You may not use all of the oil, even.

3. Add the Sriracha and blend until well combined. Stop, taste and adjust seasoning according to preference.

Sriracha Mayonnaise

Sriracha Mayonnaise

I feel like I just discovered the bees knees and it’s all thanks to Esther who talked about her Thanksgiving leftovers and Sriracha mayonnaise. Mmm! I suppose you could use bottled mayonnaise but why would you? Mayonnaise takes a minute to make and it’s so much tastier than the bottled versions and there’s zero preservatives!

Apart from how easy and fuss-free and healthy these nuggets were, I think I loved the fact that it was so tender despite the fact that it was baked chicken breast. The yogurt makes all the difference. If you wanted to be naughty you could use buttermilk but Greek yogurt (more protein than the average yogurt!) is a better call.

Those black dots you see on it are peppercorns, not burnt bits, by the way. I have a little bit leftover but I don’t think it’ll make it until tomorrow. If you’re a Sriracha fiend like me, you’re going to love the combination of paprika in the nuggets with the Sriracha mayo. And if you aren’t a Sriracha fan, I’m pretty sure the mayo would change your mind!

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On My Toes

In the spirit of procrastination, I thought I’d try liven this space up a little. I’ve been cooped up in my apartment with my ass perched prettily upon my black leather swivel chair, my migraines a very common occurrence and my right arm’s bicep a little torn/pulled due to an overambitious run on Monday’s Body Pump class. I look forward to being able to straighten my right arm again someday soon.

Naturally, being cooped up at home means little resources in the refrigerator and I was happily living off ham and cheese sandwiches for a few days. It really isn’t as sad as it sounds because I had Virginian Ham, topped it with Comte and let it grill in the oven for a few minutes to melt, and stuffed the sandwich full of gherkins before happily munching on it. Gherkins in sandwiches are easily my new favourite addiction. Actually, gherkins in general are pretty awesome.

In an attempt to finish up all the random bits and pieces in my freezer, I decided to make myself some fried rice.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

I know there are many variations of fried rice out there but I make them the way my mum does, which is sauce-less to reduce the amount of moisture in the rice.

Fried Rice
Serves 2

2 cups day-old, refrigerated rice (trust me, this is essential) – I used brown rice cos that’s what I eat
2 slices bacon, diced
8 prawns, shelled
Frozen corn, a handful
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 egg
Soya sauce
Sugar

Ingredients

Ingredients

1. Marinate the prawns with a little bit of soya sauce and a sprinkling of sugar.

2. Crack an egg into the cold rice, and mix it around. Add a bit of pepper if you so please.

3. Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat, then add the garlic. Fry until lightly browned and fragrant – this will be very quick so make sure you don’t burn your garlic.

4. Add in the bacon and prawns, stir until just cooked. Add in the rice and stir until well mixed.

5. Finally, add in the corn and stir through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Serve immediately. Optional: Serve with a fried egg, especially when you break the runny yolk and mix it through the rice like a gravy. It’s mmmmm-good.

Other than that, I’ve since started my own little herb garden. I’m going to get them repotted, I think but it’s majorly fun having only to step out onto my own balcony and snip off a few sprigs of basil to add to a dish.

Herb Garden


Sinful Solace

I fear I may be going cross eyed from staring at blocks of texts highlighted in neon yellow and processing information about Ancient Rome and her crazy emperors, and overanalysing buildings in ancient Middle East. History; fun subject and definitely thrilling to be able to trump other people with my vast knowledge of the past but seriously? Frustrating as hell to study. In fact, I’m starting to feel the rise of a migraine with the steady beat of a pulse beginning inside my skull.

You can tell I’m stressed when I end up baking a lot. I know some people stress out when they have to cook but I am my most comfortable in the kitchen. In fact, a good form of procrastination for me is to bake, clean and rearrange my kitchen. But the best part is baking sweets because having sweets on hand during stressful periods is one of the best balms for frenzied nerves. I’m not sure the scales will agree with my overconsumption of butter and sugar but it’s a small price to pay to hold on to one’s sanity.

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread

Needless to say, my diet has slipped into disgrace with my meals of over-processed crap like instant noodles and luncheon meat. I’ve improved a little the past few days and have actually been making food from scratch but it’s still rather pitiful – almost too pitiful to photograph and discuss.

However, I’m a person who always has butter, sugar and flour on hand no matter how barren my refrigerator and freezer is. I don’t know what that says about me but it’s certainly handy when one needs a break from huge chunks of texts and illicit substances aren’t an option.

This recipe hails from one of my favourite food blogs out there, Michael Ruhlman’s. It was so easy I was in and out of the kitchen in 15 mins but the most torturous part was waiting for these babies to cook just so I could dig into them.

Scottish Shortbread
Adapted from Ruhlman’s recipe

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
226g salted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and use the paddle mixture until the dough comes together.

2. Press into a cake pan or two, depending on the thickness you prefer. Poke with fork for design if you like.

3. Bake in a 175˚C preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cut into appropriate sized pieces while still warm, then allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

Vanilla specks

Vanilla specks

I used a brownie tin and a tiny little loaf tin for the balance of the dough. I had my shortbread pretty thick, which is just the way I like it. Of course my appropriation of the size to cut the shortbread into was way off so I had some really strange sized shortbread. This reminds me that back home in my parents’ kitchen I actually have a shortbread tray. It has cutters that you place into the tin after it’s baked to get the exact size you want. A lot more convenient than my game of guesstimation.

I have to confess I could not wait to get a piece into my mouth so I bit into one when it was right out of the oven. Obviously it wasn’t crisp enough and it was also much too hot so I had to spit it out into my hand (I’m so full of charm and grace) and I burned my tongue. Still, absolutely worth it. I feel like the shortbread just gets more delicious over time.

It’s perfectly buttery and sandy and so freaking addictive. I’ve been having two or three pieces as my meal these days. Then when I get sufficiently hungry, I’d begrudgingly make myself some real food. I would happily survive off shortbread, if I was perfectly honest. Except I don’t think my complexion or my wardrobe would appreciate it.

You know what else I’m absolutely itching to make now? Thyme-infused panna cotta with caramel sauce. Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry jam centre and a peanut butter frosting. As you can tell, my focus is nowhere near Augustus Caesar and his pietas or the Pompeiian peristyle homes.


Veritas

Truth.

“Ignorance is bliss.”

Why do people try so hard to conceal the truth from others? People always say it’s to protect others when really, it’s only to protect themselves. The real reason why anyone avoids telling the truth is because they don’t want to be the cause of hurt or strife; but everyone should just be honest with themselves and realise that the only person they’re protecting is themselves.

“The truth shall set you free.”

Misconceptions.

“Women are fragile and need to be protected.”

Stop making the decisions for us. Stop pretending we’re these frail little creatures that will spend the rest of the week sobbing into our pillows when we hear the truth. Don’t flatter yourselves.

“When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.”

Contradictions.

“She can deadlift heavier than me!”

Then the fear of confidence. What to do with a woman who knows what she wants and won’t apologise for it? What to do with a woman who has ambition and the smarts to back it all up?

“Basically, I took one look at him and realised that my balls were bigger than his, and I’m all woman.”

Here’s a simple guide on how to treat women: Respect. Courtesy. Communication. Honesty. Sincerity. Treat her as you would treat a really good friend, but even better because you want to win her over, don’t you?

Don’t play mind games; we’re not in high school – if you’re keen on mind games, go date someone in high school. Call when you say you will and respond in a timely manner – it’s the 21st century and we’re in the age of smartphones so there’s no excuse here when you can call, text, email, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or BBM. Do not disappear off the face of the universe and then pop up a month later and expect a warm embrace. Say thank you when you need to and apologise when you’ve been impolite – real men have manners. Don’t be aloof and think you’re better than others; remember, at the end of the day, your shit smells like shit too. Never ever double book; a woman is a human being, not a McDonald’s drive-thru! Be punctual. If you can’t afford to date, please don’t.

And most importantly: Three strikes and you’re out!

It’s like a universal plague of douchebaggery these past few months. My girlfriends and I, who are scattered across the globe by the way, have been dealing with the ultimate losers in the dating scene. I swear, if we collaborated and wrote a book on our dating stories, we’d have a bestseller on our hands. We’ve all been dealing with the lack of communication, the falling off the face of the universe, the great few first dates and then the emergence of the asshole after the third date, the rude pricks who need to be sent to finishing school, the ones who won’t admit defeat, and the men of cowardice who lack integrity.

See men, women are not fragile creatures. We don’t fall madly in love after a few dates because we have standards and we actually have to be won over. So if you don’t want to see a woman anymore, you say, “I had a great time but I don’t think it’ll work out between us. I really hope you’ll find someone who’ll make you happy, and I’d still love for us to be friends” then you leave our lives in a favourable light and MAYBE we’d even hook you up with our other hot single girlfriends because maybe it’d work for you two.

As one of my oldest best friends said to me yesterday, “Men think that we can’t handle the truth but in reality, we just can’t handle not knowing. They should all just man up and tell us the truth so we know where we stand and everyone can move forward.”

Unfortunately, all we’ve dealt with these days are cowards and assholes.

All is not lost when one has quality friends in their life, however. Especially in my case because my friends love food and alcohol, have a nasty sense of humour coupled with the ability to make me laugh at all the unfortunate creatures I’ve been interacting with.

So there’s the silver lining to all the experience I’ve had to gain to bring about the best conversations during our feasts.

Blue Chillies

Blue Chillies, Fitzroy

Malaysian dinner at Blue Chillies. Thrice-cooked Duck, Assam Fish and Ayam Kapitan.

Passionflower

Passionflower, CBD

We seem to end up in Passionflower for dessert a lot. We’re talking at least once a week…

De Clieu

De Clieu, Fitzroy

Brunch on Saturday at De Clieu.

Tom Phat

Tom Phat, Brunswick

Not even half of the dishes at a hugeeeee dinner at Tom Phat. Pork Belly Special, Green Mango Kingfish, and Chilli Caramel Pork Belly. Believe it or not, we had 4 other dishes, and rice and roti with this. Then we went to Passionflower and devoured eight scoops of ice cream.

If there was an eating Olympics, we’d proudly don the gold medal

I have to say that I’m laughing so hard at all the horrible stories that I now have under my belt that I can personally attest to surviving. You can’t say you’ve dated until you’ve had to send your friends an SOS text and receive phone calls where they’re laughing and saying, “Your dog died. Your house is on fire. I’m about to give birth. I just broke up with my boyfriend. LEAVE NOW!” I had to pull an Oscar-worthy performance full of, “No, really?! Where are you? Are you okay? That’s awful! I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!”

Truth :)