Sunday, 16 March 2008

The perils of travelling with 20 overexcited students

I just got back from a 3 day trip to Amsterdam with my Uni's rock society. As you can imagine it was pretty chaotic but fun was had by all. I'd been to Amsterdam before , a couple of years ago on my month long trip round Europe but due to a combination of bad weather and homesickness hadn't seen as much of it as i wanted.
No doubt about it Amsterdam is beautiful. You just have to conjure up images of canals and tall houses to get a feeling for it. But despite its reputation of the red light district once you get outside there its a very sedate beauty , calm and quiet.Even adding in the complication of bikes there is no sense of disorder or discord.

And this is probably why i won't go back again.

I love my cities loud and boisterous and chaotic and full of energy. Places like Rome , Barcelona and Belgrade, where things may take a while and are done haphazardly , where you take your life in both hands crossing a road. Where people are quick to smile but equally quick to frown. It in turn gives me more energy, makes me appreciate life and want to enjoy it.

One thing Amsterdam is know for is its Indonesian food and i had a really nice meal while there. It was a tiny little place just around the corner from the Niewe Kirk but the food was delicious. The chicken just fell apart and I haven't had anything so flavourful in a while.

Monday, 3 March 2008

The trusty old standbys

As the last cooking I did is still sat on my camera ready to be written up I've decided to go with something foolproof. One of my most used cook books is How to Cook by Delia Smith. This is rather ironic as i used to absolutely hate her programs and the books and refused to even consider listening to them. However this book convinced me and I'm going to list my favourite 5 recipes from the first one.

1. Gratin of Eggs with Peppers and Chorizo.
This is perfect for temperamental student ovens as all you have to do is fry everything in a pan , take it out, put it in an ovenproof dish, break 2 eggs over it, add cheese and take it out when its melted. It tastes delicious and very simple. She suggests bread but it goes just as well with salad depending on how hungry you are.

2.Butterscotch and Banana Trifle with Madeira.
I cooked this for my Mum's 50th a couple of years ago and she loved it. Normally I'm not a big trifle person but even I liked this one. So while Mum's birthday dessert is Coffee and Hazelnut Cake it appears mine is this. The traditional custard also went a long way to converting me too.

3. Goats' Cheese, Onion and Potato Bread with Thyme.
When i first cooked this I was a bit dubious about adding potato for bread. It seemed a bit of a contradiction to me and i have visions of it turning into a rather compacted Rosti. Luckily it came out delicious and whenever i make it at home it never hangs around long.

4. Leek and Goats's Cheese Tart
This was the first recipe i cooked from this book. I adore leeks and goats cheese is one of my favourites so this for me was a perfect combination. I have had a couple of near disasters with this , where I've added too much cheese and its gone a bit mushy loosing any taste of the leeks but usually it turns out well.

5. Tiger Prawn Jambalya.
This is probably the recipe I follow the least strictly, using it merely as a suggestion rather than a list of steps , especially since I hate prawns. I've only ever made one mistake with it , and that was when I was cooking it for a friend. We were so busy catching up we completely forgot about it and the bottom became rather attached to the pan.

I realise I tend to focus more on the times its gone wrong rather than the times its gone right , this is just because i tend to remember the negative rather than the positive. Also these are the recipes i cook again and again. I am attempting to cook every recipe in the book and I'm sure that over the next few months you will see occasional Delia Smith recipes. i appologise for the lack of pictures but as i haven't done much cooking recently i haven't had a chance to take any pictures of these.