Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas Syndrome, Bowling, Figs, Weather, Tapas,

This morning I was quite convinced I had Christmas syndrome, I was constantly blowing my nose and sneezing. It was horrible. However, it dissipated once I left the apartment and doesn't seem to have returned, fingers crossed.

I am delighted to report that I bowled well today and my average went up 2 points, woo hoo. I am so pleased. Matt's average stayed the same. He says every week he isn't going to bowl again but luckily forgets it and happily goes with me once more. There were just the two of us on our team as our team mates have deserted us and are swanning around in Cuba. Lucky so and sos. They did do bowl aheads though and our team took all 7 points today, first time in our history this year. We will not reach the top, but it would be nice to get off the bottom. Trouble is, we started so late as a team so that didn't give us a good beginning.

We were discussing figs the other day because I had posted a recipe with figs. I finally remembered to check my local grocery and much to my surprise, they do have fresh black figs (what's the difference?) I contemplated ordering some, but not this week. I did, however, order some chestnuts, ready to eat, being lazy, although they are really tastier when you cook them yourself. Trouble is, it's such a pain preparing them to cook. I can't remember if I have tried cooking them in the air fryer but I think they would work very well. Maybe I should google that.

As you know, my car was outside all night and all day today so as it was raining cats and dogs as well as a few frogs and lizards, it got a good wash. Needed it once again because of all the dust in the underground parking garage. I don't ever remember having such a problem with dust down there before. Ever since they "cleaned" the place, it has been dirtier than I can recall. Anyway, right now it is nice and clean. Saved me a couple of bucks. It just occurred to me, do you know the origin of raining cats and dogs? Apparently cats and dogs used to sleep on the roof tops of thatched cottages and when it rained, often the thatch gave way so the animals fell into the dwellings. There you just learned something new, I hope, LOL. I might say, by the way, it is past 11 p.m. and no longer raining but the wind is howling round the building instead.

One of the things I miss never going to Spain any more and envy Mark Koopmans his access to, is Tapas. Any bar worth it's salt has tapas of one kind or another, some more of a culinary delight than others. I remember going on Tapas runs with my parents, trying out the offerings at different cafeterias or bars. We often used to have various shrimp or prawns which we would peel and eat dropping the shells on the floor, quite acceptable, all the floors were tiles and they were hosed down at the end of the day. But the variety of tapas is fantastic and when I saw this recipe, I just had to save it and share it with you. Almonds are a favourite in Spain and they have a terrific variety of uses for them.

Flat Breads with Shrimp and Romesco Sauce

At Mas Rabell, the private restaurant where the Torres family entertains, chef Sergi Millet cooks
homey, regional food like romesco sauce, a slightly smoky puree of roasted red peppers, garlic and almonds. The versatile sauce is often served with fish or vegetables, but here Millet spreads it on rounds of soft homemade flat bread and tops it with sautéed shrimp.

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry white wine

1 medium red bell pepper
1 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped (4 ounces)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
24 medium shrimp (about 3/4 pound), shelled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

2. In a small bowl, mix the water with the sugar and yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade, blend the flour and salt. Add the sautéed onion, wine and yeast mixture and process until a ball forms. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough briefly until smooth. Transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round about 2/3 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out 30 rounds and transfer them to a large baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through and pale.

4. Roast the pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler until blackened all over. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Peel; discard the stem and seeds. Coarsely chop the pepper.

5. In a food processor, process the roasted pepper with the almonds, vinegar, parsley and garlic to a paste. With the machine on, slowly blend in the olive oil. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and season with salt.

6. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until white throughout, about 2 minutes per side.

7. Spread a teaspoon of romesco sauce on each flat bread and top with a shrimp; serve.

Yield: about 30 hors d'oeuvres

Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day

Monday, December 9, 2019

Water Shut Off, Christmas Syndrome, Busy Busy, Instant Pot

There are notices all over this apartment building announcing that the water will be cut off, once again, on Monday at 8 a.m. and that access to the underground parking will be unavailable all day so, if we want our cars, we need to move them by 9. I decided to move mine on Sunday morning so downstairs I went and there was a piece of "police type" tape over the garage entry so I couldn't get at the car anyway. I actually forgot that there was a second door (only ever used it once in 19 years) and, as it turned out, I could still use it. (Took a phone call to the super to remind me). I ended up parking in the visitor parking lot as it is closer to the door. Only problem was, it is as icy as a skating rink so somewhat dangerous. I had to move the car so Matt could get out on dry ground. However, if we want to bowl on Monday, it's gotta be done. Hope it doesn't snow overnight that will really tee me off. That's the only trouble with living in a building which was built over 40 years ago. Lots of things are wearing out. Pipes being the #1 problem these days. The elevators were replaced some years ago and lots of internal things like the tiles in the hallways, not forgetting the balconies which, if you are a long time reader, you will know all about.

Have you heard of Christmas syndrome? I hadn't until today. Apparently when we bring home Christmas trees were are also bringing in mould which is on all trees in one form or another, not only that, we store our synthetic trees in the attic and so on and they too pick up mould during the year and we then bring into the living area which is why many of us end up sniffling and snuffling at this time of the year. Personally I have just gone off Christmas decorations, I've only got a few but I have been sniffing and snuffling like mad lately but didn't know why. Who knew?

We have one hell of a busy week coming up, Monday Bowling, Tuesday Foot Nurse, Mandarin Lunch, Shopping, Wednesday coffee with my Alzheimer group, later in the day a pharmacist is coming to give us our annual review of medications, Thursday I have a blood work appointment at 8:30 a.m. Of course I forgot exercise classes amongst that lot. Think I will be totally knackered by the end of the week. With any luck Zoey will be bringing lunch one day and getting ladydog to drive her here.

This sounded a nice soup to maybe fill in some times during the holidays. I figure, once again, it is a cinch for my Instant Pot. Talking of which, I finally got round to checking, I can fit two ramekins in my pot so it won't be too difficult to make my lava cakes. Checking over this recipe again I see it uses fish sauce. I bought some a couple of weeks ago and can't remember what for - duuh.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

We've deviated slightly from the classic version of a popular Thai soup by adding rice to make it more substantial. Serve it with lime wedges; a squirt at the table does wonders

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut into 2 1/2-by-1/4-inch strips
3 Tbs Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice
1 quart plus 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom third only, peeled, smashed, and cut into 2-inch pieces, or three 3-inch-by-1/4-inch strips lemon zest
1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thirds
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (15-ounce can)
2 fresh red chiles or jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, cut crosswise into thin slices
3 Tbs chopped cilantro

1. In a medium glass dish or stainless-steel pan, combine the chicken strips with the fish sauce and lime juice. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, bring the broth, lemongrass, and ginger to a simmer. Add the rice; simmer until the rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the chicken and marinade and cook until the chicken is just done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chiles and cilantro.

Servings: 4

Tips Asian fish sauce is available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

Source: FOOD and WINE

Have a great day