Saturday, 21 September 2013

B is for Beerfest

Today the annual Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich, Bavaria.  For the next 16 days, up to six million people will drink over 7.5 million litres of good German beer.

But you don't have to trek to Southern Germany to clank glasses with friends. You can create your own Fest at home very easily.

The food for it couldn't be easier since everything can be bought in packets from the supermarket: potato salad from the cold counter; jarred sauerkraut / pickled cabbage; and sausages that will take 15 to 20 minutes to griddle/grill.  If the bakery section doesn't sell pretzels, mini versions will be available in the snack aisle.

Other traditional tucker includes roast chicken, ham hock, hunks of sourdough bread and cheesy potato cakes.

Add a few accessories from Amazon in the form of a Beer Garden sign, balloons in the traditional Bavarian pale blue/white checkerboard design and of course the large, dimpled glasses if you don't already have them in stock...although really anything that's chunky and that holds beer will work.

And there you have it.  Ein Prosit in your backyard!

Viel Spaß!  Have fun!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

M is for Mid-Autumn Festival

Between the 18-20 September this year (but only this year as the festival moves in the calendar as with all other Chinese festivals), Hong Kong will celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.

My least favourite part of the festival was moon cakes until Haagen Dazs and Starbucks got in on the act and produced ones that weren't stuffed with lotus bean paste.

But my favourite bit of the festival has always been the lanterns to commemorate the moon.  Some involve riddles, and there's always the obligatory cooing over the ones made by friends' children, but they are always just really bright and fun.

And given the food is plentiful (think of it as a Chinese Harvest Festival) and you can always get hold of a lantern or two, it is not difficult for you to hold your own version of the Chinese celebration at home. AND it's an excuse to dig out some of those decorations only otherwise used once a year for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

P is for Pork Katsu Curry

I made a pork katsu curry tonight.  Very simple, very easy, but so so much better if you breadcrumb your pork in Panko breadcrumbs.  Available at most large supermarkets (or if not, you can get them on Amazon), they are so much better than any other type as they are lovely and crisp from the packet...and are not bright orange as most seem to be!

  • 2 pork tenderloin steaks (trimmed, halved and flattened to 5 mm thick between cling film sheets)
  • 250 gms Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100 gms plain flour
  • S&P
  • Oil for frying the pork
  • 1 teaspn cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspn fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspn coriander seeds
  • 1 tblspn mild curry powder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tblspn cornflour
  • 4 tblspn honey
  • 100 mls water
  • Dash of soy sauce
  1. Put your egg, flour (seasoned) and breadcrumbs separately in three shallow dishes 
  2. Using one hand (so one remains clean to do other things/move dishes), dip each piece of pork in the flour, then the egg and then press into the breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess each time but making sure all the pork is coated
  3. Set aside on a plate and wash your hands
  4. Heat up a pan of oil / turn on your deep-fat-fryer to cook the pork
  5. Toast off the spices in a dry frying pan
  6. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind into fine powder
  7. Start to sweat your onion on a low heat with a little of the oil
  8. Once the oil in your saucepan/fryer is hot, put in two pieces of pork and cook for two minutes on each side until golden
  9. Drain on kitchen paper and repeat with the last two pieces of pork
  10. Stir the ground spices and flour into the onion and add the soy and honey
  11. Cook for a couple of mins and stir in the water; if the sauce is too thick, add more water until you have a thick but runny sauce
  12. Cut the pork into thick slivers then place on a bed of rice with the sauce draped over or served on the side
Feeds two.  You can replace the pork with chicken but use thighs otherwise the meat will be too dry.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013