Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s soup season! Cold nights curled up on the sofa call for a lovely big bowl of steaming soup. After I made my Chinese-style roasted ham, I used the resulting stock to make some rather delicious chicken noodle soup. I usually have very limited success with noodles for some reason – but in this instance, I nailed it (if I do say so myself).

It was really pretty simply. I removed the star anise from the stock and mashed up the soft cloves of garlic and ginger into a paste, which I then returned to the liquid.  After thinly slicing some boneless chicken thighs (I find these much tastier than chicken breasts), I added them to the pot to boil in the stock. In the meantime, I sliced some pak choi and oyster mushrooms, which also got added to the pot once the chicken was cooked.  Seeing as I had a tin of bamboo shoots in the cupboard, they got thrown in for good measure too, along with some soy and oyster sauce for flavouring (as the stock was already quite salty from the ham, it’s important not to over do it on the soy front).  Towards the end of cooking, I added some fine egg noodles, which only took a few minutes to soften in the broth.

Usually I need something with soup for lunch, like a sandwich or buttered roll. But this was so filling, it did just the trick and kept me going until dinner time:

chicken noodle soup

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Chinese-Style Roasted Ham

I’ve taken to roasting my own ham this year and recently tried something different. Although I do prefer my good old honey and mustard version, Chinese-style wasn’t too bad either (and very, very easy).

Same method as before, but this time I boiled the ham with star anise, stem ginger, garlic and peppercorns. Before roasting, I covered it in a good amount of honey for extra sweetness. A nice twist on our usual ham (and the stock was great for chicken noodle soup, recipe coming soon):

Chinese-style ham

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‘Tis the Season of Christmas TV Adverts

In recent years we seemed to have developed a new phenomenon – the Christmas TV advert. This regular showdown, typically kicking off around mid November, is normally dominated by the two usual suspects, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

This year they’ve gone one step further, but both in the same direction. Introducing:

Sparkle the M&S dog

VS

John Lewis Bear

John Lewis Hare

So who’s it going to be? #MagicOrSparkle or #bearandhare?

I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as you buy their stuff.

Bah, humbug, etc.

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Where do You See Yourself in Five Years Time?

Well? Any thoughts?

I seem to have found myself unintentionally living my life by this mantra:

“Map out a plan, but do it in pencil.”plan on a napkin

Five years ago, my current job title didn’t exist. With things changing around us so rapidly, it’s hard to plan ahead. Whatever ideas I conjure up are bound to be obsolete by then anyway. Now my plans for the future are much more abstract.  All I know is that I want to keep moving forwards. I don’t like staying still for too long.

So for now, my answer to the question is really quite simple: “somewhere new”.

What about you?

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Spicy Pork Shoulder Steaks

The other night I made a some spicy pork shoulder steaks for dinner that were rather good, if I say so myself! Shoulder steaks are not only cheaper than pork loins, I personally think they’re tastier and more succulent. This is mostly because of the fat that runs through the meat (as opposed to the large rind that you’ll find along the edge of a loin) which keeps it juicy when cooking.

A couple of hours before cooking the main meal, I mixed up a speedy marinade of garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric, curry powder, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly what was in the curry powder (as I got it in an unlabelled jar from my mother-in-law!) – but I think any of your favourite type will do, or even just some garam masala.  In the past I used to just use malt vinegar in my marinades, but using balsamic tends to give a greater depth of flavour.  Once done, I coated the pork steaks in the marinade and set aside in a baking tray to absorb. For even better results, I would leave this over night.

Half an hour before dinner, I seared the steaks in a very hot frying pan. I didn’t use any extra oil as the pork was already coated in some from the marinade. Once brown on both sides (which didn’t take very long!), I popped them back in the baking tray and into the oven to finish off cooking for another 20 minutes or so.

I served this with some white basmati rice, drizzled with some of the cooked juices packed full of flavour.  I also made a fresh and crunchy salad with watercress leaves, baby spinach, rocket, white cabbage, red onions and tomatoes – tossed in a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. And because we were feeling particularly peckish, I threw in some roasted new potatoes too, just for good measure!

spicy pork shoulder steaks

 

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