Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Daring Bakers #22 Crisp crackers and flatbreads... Breadsticks for me!

Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

I know it's bean ages since I took part in The Daring Bakers...but life and all that comes with it took centre stage I'm afraid... This challenge was interesting and seeing as bread is baked at my home roughly 3 times a week, this challenge wasn't something that had to be planned for or needed any extra ingredients which we would have to buy - although bread sticks was something that was made for the first time at my house. And what a result! :)

Bread sticks are very versatile and easy to make, easier than a loaf of bread (also quicker). This recipe was taken from a brilliant book "Bread" by Daniel Stevens, River Cottage Handbook No.3.

How to make it...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stuffed pork chops with leek and butternut squash...

It's been ages since we had pork chops for dinner. I didn't want to just 'fry them' (can turn out sometimes very 'tough' and chewy if the meat itself isn't the best...), I wanted something different, something more 'adventurous'. After looking for a recipe online I've stumbled upon this one, and seeing as I had all the ingredients already at home I decided to give it a try. The result was great (slightly difficult to make a 'pocket' in a pork chop, but not impossible ;) ). This dish gave me few ideas for the future and I'll definitely will be experimenting with different stuffing.
PS. It was surprisingly 'light' dish for a pork....

The recipe comes from and the below quantities are for 1 person.

How to make it...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chinese marbled tea eggs...

I saw those pretty marbled eggs online so many times, especially recently due to the Chinese New Year. Tea eggs were high on my 'to do/cook list' for few years now, but it's only recently that I finally made them! Why I've waited for so long?! They are very(!) easy to prepare, almost no work whatsoever! My eggs were steeping for 5 hours and the taste was just right - not too strong, but clearly there. Next time I'll steep them over night, as that's what most people seem to be doing. They are perfect as a snack for a party - and as they look so pretty they are not only delicious, but a 'table decoration' at the same time ;) They are great in a sandwich, for your lunch (and that's what I'm having at work today!). Please do try them, as long as you like hard boiled eggs, eggs in general and you're not 'afraid' of a spices - make Chinese tea eggs!

"Tea egg is a typical Asian savory food commonly sold as a snack. It is also known as marble egg because cracks in the egg shell create darkened lines with marble-like patterns. Commonly sold by street vendors or in night markets in most Chinese communities throughout the world, it is also commonly served in Asian restaurants." - by

Below recipe comes from a great cooking website

How to make it...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teavivre - Chinese tea for life...

If you've been reading my blog for some time now you'll probably know that I'm a "coffee person" rather than a "tea person" but.... said all that I'm actually changing towards tea as my first choice, rather than a coffee. The reasons behind it - well, main one is my health (I know, I know all about health benefits of drinking coffee :) but at this stage of my life benefits of drinking tea are more important for my well being...). So, going back to the merit. When I was contacted by the Teavivre I couldn't believe my luck for an opportunity to try so many different, original Chinese teas. My choice of those teas was: black tea, red pu-erh tea, oolong tea (which I have never tried before) and one of their fruit teas (which became my favourite one!). I might not know a lot about teas (very little actually) but I know when I like one or not. Teavivre teas are very high quality and you can taste, as well as see it in your pot/cup. I like all the teas I was able to sample - some more than others, but that's just my personal preference.

The fruit tea  - waterlilies fruit tea (Roselle, Rose hip, Apple, Orange Peel, Pineapple Pieces) is my favourite one! I can actually taste all the different fruits in it. It has a lovely rosy colour (photo above) and delicious smell! It's very refreshing and has a natural sweetness to it, so I didn't have to add any sugar to enjoy it! Sometimes a find fruit teas a little acidic and too strong, but that wasn't a case here. It's caffeine-free and a great tea for relaxing or "pick me up" - as it's very fresh! It reminds me of those sunny, summer days...

My second choice was for black teas, a selection of 5:
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip
Fengqing Dragon Pearl Black Tea
Bailin Gongfu Black Tea
Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea
Lapsang Souchong Smoky Black Tea (Yan Xun Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong)
They all are quite strong, with a very nice smell. Those black teas would be an equivalent of a coffee for me, well something I can substitute coffee for. I like the fact that on all those little sachets of different types of black tea I actually had an information about exact brewing time (something I wouldn't have a clue!). What I was surprised with the most was the fact that I actually can say the difference between those 5 teas - well can't name them but I would know that they're not the same ones!). I always thought that a black tea is just that - a black tea, that once you've tried one you know all of them... Well, thank you for proving me wrong!

Oolong teas were something I've tried (and heard about) for the very first time. I thought they will be similar to green tea but they actually weren't. Oolong tea has it's own unique taste and aroma. The ones I had an opportunity to try were:
Taiwan Monkey Picked (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea
Organic Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess” Oolong Tea
Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea
Taiwan Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao) Oolong Tea
Taiwan Ginseng (Lan Gui Ren) Oolong Tea
I've found out that oolong teas are perfect for afternoons, just kind of "pick me up" drink I need in those hours after lunch, something to "revive" me but not make me "hyper". I'm amazed how many steeps you can get from each tiny sashet, so it's not only good, staty but also economical! I like the Milk oolong tea in particular - very unusual, but pleasant taste.

Last tea I got was the pu-erh one. I asked for the pu-erh as I always liked red tea but it's so hard to buy a good one. Most of the teas I bought before were too bitter and had this weird "after taste"... I was nicely surprised with the one I got from the Teavivre. It's Fengqing Golden Buds Ripened Pu-erh Cake Tea 2005 and I actually got a small piece of the "cake"! Again it came in a small silver sachet with full instruction regarding brewing (method and for how long). It wasn't bitter at all, even once when I forgot all about it and it brew for longer than it should... still the taste was very strong but nice. It has very dark, amber like colour. The smell/aroma of a red tea is very distinctive and not to everyone liking but it appeals to me. You'll get good few steeps out of a small piece of "cake" and this one is a high quality tea, so brewing it few times actually makes it better each time round, that's what I've found anyway!

Teavivre has a great website. Very informative with detailed information about all different kinds of tea, a little bit of history, brewing methods, different teas for different health benefits (relaxing, weight loss, anti-aging etc.) and also what tea is the best for different times of the day (morning, afternoon, evening and all day round).

So for your "1 stop shop" and very informative website about Chinese teas go to

*I received a free sample of all the teas mentioned above from Teavivre. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Roast spicy chicken...

You can only do so many things with chicken, right? WRONG! There ARE so many different things you can do with a humble chicken, but in my personal opinion nothing gives more comfort than a roast chicken. The aroma you get in your whole house, the crispy skin and that amazing taste. For me it is an ultimate comfort food and I'm always looking for ways of making it a little bit different each time. I'm an absolute fan of chicken roasted with olives and lemons but I've loved this spicy version too! It will definitely stay in our "repertoire".

Recipe comes from a cookbook "The Chicken Cookbook" edited by Simona Hill.

How to make it...