August 2013 archive

Tarragon chicken with mushroom Dijon sauce.

2 nights ago I watched a YouTube video on how to debone a whole chicken (with the exception of the wings and 1 leg bone). The task was surprisingly easy to do, especially with my new sharp  knives. You start from the backbone and work your way around, the whole process takes about 10 minutes. I stuffed the chicken salt, pepper, fresh tarragon, rosemary, sage, lovage and lemon rinds then tied the bird with some cooking twine. The roasting took about 20 minutes in a 450 degree oven.

I made soup with the chicken carcass, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the stock for the mushroom Dijon sauce.

The sauce:

I fried mushrooms in butter, added the chicken stock, fresh tarragon and garlic. Reduced the sauce half way , added some of the roasted chicken drippings then quickly stir in 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard.

The chicken was extremely flavorful and juicy, probably one of the best birds I’ve ever made.

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Yakitori chicken wings and vegetables.

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Real yakitori chicken wings should be deboned in a certain way. I watched this video a few times and tried it out for myself, let’s just say I need a little more practice.

 

Yakitori marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brandy (you can’t find mirin in Bulgaria)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 squirt lemon juice
  • a little bit of flour

Marinate the chicken over night. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the juices in a small pan. Cook the marinade until it boils then remove from heat and gently stir in a small amount of flour to thicken the sauce, use this sauce to baste your vegetables while cooking.

If you are lucky enough to own a BBQ, grilling your yakitori is the best way to go. I cooked everything in my little oven at a very high heat and the results were great.

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Don’t forget to soak your skewers before cooking, you don’t want to set them on fire!

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A most eggcellent breakfast.

This morning I learnt a new poaching technique. Crack an egg into a square of plastic cling film, tie it into little bundles with string then cook slowly at a very low temperature making sure the egg bundles don’t touch the bottom of the pot.

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Fresh field tomatoes, poached egg, green onions and caper basil sauce.

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Irregular udons, handmade.

Today I was watching “Mind of a chef” with David Chang. The noodle episode made me crave a LARGE bowl of Japanese soup. It got me wondering if making noodles from scratch would really be that complicated.

http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/06/how-to-make-handmade-udon-noodles-its-easier-than-you-might-think/

I loosely followed the instructions from the blog and the results were fantastic. The reason my noodles were ununiformed is because I left the dough unattended for 6 hours, plus I didn’t have a rolling pin and used a gin bottle instead. In the end it really didn’t matter, the noodles tasted great! Stomping on the mixture changed my life, it truly softens the dough perfectly plus it made for a SUPER FUN activity!

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OH MY GOODNESS, I used both regular button mushrooms and non-Japanese Chinese mushrooms.

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The broth came out of the freezer, it was made from the cooking juices produced when I parboiled my last batch of pork ribs. The raw egg yolk is very Japanese, try it out. Itadakimasu  いただきます!!!!

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The super fantastic extremely exciting Alisa visit 2013!

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The last 2 weeks have been truly amazing, my friend Alisa came to visit us in Sunny Beach over her summer holidays. I met Alisa about 10 years ago (back in my rave days) through our ex boyfriends and we became very close, she basically lived at my house at the time. A few years back she decided to move to Asia to become an English teacher and so I only got to see her every few years when she’d come home for short visits.

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Her arrival:

Wonderful Alisa flew from her home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Istanbul, Turkey (10 1/2 hour flight) and stayed in Istanbul for 2 days visiting as much as she could before hoping on a bus to Bulgaria. Apparently the bus ride up was a nightmare; no one was helpful, nobody could guarantee dropping her off where she wanted and worst of all, the bus didn’t have washrooms! 2 hours pass when we had been expecting her, we received a slightly panicked/stressed phone call from Alisa who got dropped off on the side of the highway at the complete opposite side of our town. We immediately woke up the neighbors, got them to shuffle their cars which were blocking our van and drove to her rescue with ice cold Bulgarian beers at hand. Crisis over!

 

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Highlights (part 1):

We started off the visit with an obligatory pub crawl around Sunny Beach familiarizing Alisa with our daily routine and the sights, sounds and smells of our habitat. Things got crazy, pink shooters were involved and many Tylenols were consumed the following morning.

One day we got a knock on our door and it was our Russian neighbor inviting us to take part of a play put on by the adults for all the children in the building. Matt was the Dj for the event while Alisa and I got dolled up as mermaids and performed several dances for the kids.

 

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Alisa visit (part 2):

Old town Nesebar:

My favorite thing about living where I live is that it’s so close to the beautiful historical town of Nesebar. Alisa was delighted to walk down the cobble stone street admiring building and churches built in the 10th century.

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Bulgarian men just LOVE Alisa. Matt tried to sell her off a few times but the men never measured up to Matt’s standards.

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Alisa highlights (part 3):

The beach party:

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Matt always has his ear to the ground for up coming Dj parties, Hernan Cateneo was playing on August 9th so we were going. All three of us dressed up and headed to the beach for a night of dancing in the sand. The music was great, the place was packed and we made good friends with a quirky couple from Ukraine. Craziest part of the night was bumping into 2 girls from Toronto!

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Alisa adventures (part 4):

Old Russian boat party:

We it comes to transportation, Sunny Beach has it all! Beautiful walkways for strolling, standup electric scooters that go really fast, perfect for packs of drunk meatheads, carriage rides for the romantics, miniature train rides for the kids, hot overstuffed busses for the locals, an 8 seater moving Heineken bar (all you can drink for 30 minutes for $7) for the crazy people, small fisherman boats act like shuttles between Sunny Beach and Old town Nesebar and finally, for a very small fee you can take a ride in an old Russian made hydrofoil.   

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Newly redesigned interior.

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The front end lifts up from the water making the boat go really fast. It felt like being in a small plane!

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Alisa in Pomorie (part 5):

Our Russian boat dropped us off in the city of Pomorie, a place Matt and I had never explored. The city was wonderful, just the right amount of old world mixed in with modern amenities. The white sandy beaches and cool beach bars were packed with Bulgarians, a nice change from the pasty white Brits in our town. We spent most of the day walking around looking at buildings, drinking beers and talking to the locals.

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Random Bulgarians with a nice garden.

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I’ve been looking for an outdoor street market for a while now.

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ummmmm????

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Monday morning in Bulgaria and everyone is on the beach.

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Alisa and the Russians (part 6):

Have I mentioned that our neighbors are AWESOME? In the last 2 weeks we have become very close with the people from our building. Though language barriers can sometimes complicate things we always manage to have a great time. One night I invited everyone over for snacks and champagne which turned into a fun vodka drinking party/dance party.

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I made a large amount of sushi and a vegetable plate, Alisa helped by carving a custom made killer whale out of a cucumber. Unfortunately I forgot to put the SD card in the camera and I’m left without any good pictures.

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Elizabeth from across the hall brought flavored Ukrainian vodka as an appetizer. For the first time in my life I ran out of food at my party (who knew Russians loved sushi so much), so we were invited to a suite on the 4th floor for more food, more drinks and more fun. I eventually passed out while the gang danced in my living room. Great party!

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Bye bye Alisa (part 7):

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It was great to see my friend again after so many years, she really is a great person. I was in need of some good “girl time”, all my friends are so far away. I hope she enjoyed her stay and loves Bulgaria as much as we do, hope she comes back for another visit.

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