Monday, April 30, 2007

Food In the News

Beans Are Not Just a Musical Fruit
Oh, happy day! Hugh Grant found another way to embarrass himself, this time by pioneering another use for baked beans. They are apparently his weapons of choice for attacking pesky photographers. Here is a wonderful photo of him about to mount an attack. Unfortunately, beFOODled was unable to ascertain whether Grant was successful in his attempt to soil the photographer with the much-loved breakfast legume.

Are You a Cucumber or a Banana?

Better hope that you are a cuke. In Singapore, a pharmaceutical firm and the Society for Men's Health are measuring erectile dysfunction by asking men to arbitrarily rate their hardness on a scale inspired by produce - cucumber :), unpeeled banana, peeled banana or tofu :(. Not surprisingly, the medical authorities are not endorsing this subjective - albeit creative - study.

Soak Up the Sunshine Vitamin
Studies by American scientists are showing that sunshine for 10 to 15 minutes a day may cut your chances of getting some cancers (breast, colon, prostate) by about 50 per cent. Canadians are especially challenged because, when it comes to adequate Vitamin D production, it's all about latitude. If you live near the equator you're laughing, but from October to March the sunlight is just too feeble in Canada for good Vit D synthesis. And it looks like it's better to sun oneself than get it from food. Food amounts are piddly compared to what your skin makes after a dose of sunshine - you'd have to drink about three litres of milk a day, according to the Globe and Mail. As much as I love the stuff, that's just not possible. Now, I just hope that the fake and bakes (tanning salons) will not decide to use this an advertising line.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rack of Lamb with Couscous

S made this wonderful rack of lamb and couscous over the weekend. We got two dinners out of this meal.

For the lamb:
2 full racks of lamb (2 x 8 ribs)

Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the racks. Place the racks in a saucepan on medium heat and, using tongs, sear the outsides, but keep the insides raw. You just want a thin layer of cooked meat on all sides.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare the breadcrumb crust.

For the breadcrumb crust:
Panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs
melted butter
olive oil
dried basil
chili flakes

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. You want the breadcrumbs to be moist but still flaky. Press the crust onto the seared racks of lamb so that the breadcrumbs adhere. Interlock the two racks together into a tent shape with the bones in the air. Stand them upright in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Let rest for 10.

onions, chopped
mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 C water or stock
1 C couscous

Fry the onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Add some salt. Add the raisins when the other ingredients start to brown. As soon as the raisins plump up, add the butter and water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Mix in the couscous. Cover for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Cut the racks into ribs and serve on a bed of couscous.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spicy Slaw

A spicy dish! This super-easy recipe gives a boring bag of cabbage an exotic makeover. My Dad made it for our Easter dinner. He started by frying ginger, red onions and spring onions in oil, along with some bits of bell pepper that were escapees of a previous dish. Then he added some spices - this time it was cumin, turmeric, paprika, curry powder, chili powder, whole cloves and some cayenne. After a couple of minutes, he added some salt, lime juice and a full bag of store-bought coleslaw. And after another five minutes or so, we garnished it with chopped tomatoes and some fresh coriander. Et voila! A very spicy slaw.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crispy Nori Chicken and 300

Crispy nori chicken on Flickr by beFOODled.

A few weeks ago, we had our friends Calimocho and a newly-coiffed Squeaky - who has insisted on some star exposure in beFOODled - over for a Japanese-themed evening. The plan was to eat tasty Japanese food and then rent an anime movie, but in actual fact, we finished up in Greece that night, as we all saw 300. A little aside before the food details: I really liked this movie, for the simple reason that it is full of hot abs! (Unfortunately they were all painted-on virtu-abs. Sigh.) Squeaky's favourite line: "THIS IS SPARTA!" 300 has revived my interest in classical civilizations and has led to my discovery of the ROME miniseries, to which I am obsessively addicted. Abs aside, the cinemetography in 300 was great - comic colours all washed over in sepia. I was not expecting an historically accurate epic documentary, so I wasn't disappointed. But S made an intelligent observation that some of the phrases uttered, such as "Freedom doesn't come for free" were obviously pro-Republican propaganda just when the Bush Administration needed it the most. I've since read that the Iranians are angry about the way 300 portrays the Persians. All good points, but I liked it all the same.

And now back to Japan. To start, we had instant miso soup, and for the main course, some crispy nori chicken. I served this with rice bowls, honey-soy carrots and a mint and zucchini salad.

Crispy Nori Chicken
Adapted from Jane Lawson's Yoshoku
Serves 4

1 kg chicken thighs, cut into two-bite pieces
vegetable oil for frying (only a thin layer as this is not a deep-fried dish)
sesame oil

Marinade for chicken:
60 ml soy sauce
60 ml mirin
1 Tbsp sake
2 tsp grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Dusting mixture:
1/2 C corn starch
2 Tbsp crushed nori flakes
1/8 tsp Japanese pepper

Marinate the chicken pieces for an hour. Fill a large saucepan with a thin layer - on the order of millimetres - of vegetable oil and add about 80 ml of sesame oil. Heat to 180 C (350 F).

Lightly coat the chicken pieces in the starch mixture. Fry in batches for 6-7 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve with lemon wedges.

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