one pot chinese braised beef

We’ve done many quick beef recipes before, but this one-pot Chinese braised beef really hits the spot. The G-Spot. Put down some plastic sheeting and let’s get cooking! Oh wait, no, no, we have to finish our Peterborough report, don’t we? It haunts me now like a Vietnam flashback. So many soiled mattresses. I’ll bust out the old graphic…

peterborough

…and kindly advise you that part one can be found here and part two can be found here. If you’re a fan of our travel tales and writing, you can find our previous trips to Corsica, Ireland, Iceland and Berlin, along with many other articles, in our big compendium book! It’s been a while since I mentioned it – you can find it on Amazon right here!

When you left us we were just finishing up Bletchley Park and steeling ourselves for the journey back to the hotel. Despite the sat-nav’s attempts to make our head explode scanner style by repeating roundabout over and over, it was a pleasant enough journey and we were back at the hotel in no time at all. True to their word, they had switched our rooms to an altogether more charming one (although Paul’s face was ashen when he realised it was up a flight of stairs, the poor lamb). They told us to nip back to the old room and pack our things, which we promptly did.

On our thigh-chaffing walk to the old room, Paul pushed me out of the way and hurtled ahead. Turns out that his ashen-face was more down to the immediate and pressing need to dispose of the World’s Shittiest Italian Meal from the day before. I, being a thoughtful chap, told him that he’d need to hold it in because the housekeepers would be waiting for us to leave so they could clean the room and there was no way I was adding ‘walking into a deathcloud of barely digested pancetta’ onto their list of reasons to hate life. So began the quickest debate you’ve ever seen, with Paul dancing back and forth on his feet and me being firm and telling him he had to hold it. I only relented when he said it was either the toilet of the old room or the hood on my hoodie in the corridor.

Well, you can’t argue with that. I stepped aside. There was a lot of noise and motion.

Of course, it smelt like someone had died, meaning we had to stay in the room for twenty minutes frantically wafting the curtains and flapping the duvet to try and get the stench to dissipate. I don’t want a mark on my Premier Inn record that states we leave the room smelling like someone has burnt a tyre full of human hair. Having done the best we could, with me liberally sprinkling Rive D’Ambre everywhere (and that stuff is £170 a bottle, just saying: we’re fat, it’s the only designer thing we can wear), we switched rooms.

Why is it, no matter what time of the day or night it is, you can turn E4 or More4 or 4Skin or 4goodnesssakepickaname on, there’s always a Come Dine with Me quintet to watch? At the very last there’s a Four in the Bed chain to work through. Having realised that there was absolutely bot-all-else to do on a Sunday in fair Peterborough, we settled down with vending machine snacks and a tiny cup of Barely Grey and made the best of it. Naturally, we fell asleep. Say what you want about Premier Inn, they do make a damn comfy bed. I should know, we’ve got one installed.

We woke up at 7, full of piss and vinegar for falling asleep and wasting our evening, only to realise that there was nowhere in Peterborough that caught our eye. Paul did suggest a visit to a floating boat which served Chinese food but then we bought realised we didn’t fancy stopping every ten minutes on the way home to revisit our dinner. Casting our net a little wider we eventually spotted somewhere that did take our fancy – Stilton, just over the roundabout. Lovely. I made to make a reservation at a lovely looking place that I can’t remember the name of (Bell Inn?) but Paul reminded me of something.

See, my lovely, confident husband frets something chronic about going to ‘nice places’ to eat. He has an inferiority complex – he absolutely shouldn’t, he’s wonderful, but he thinks he is going to make an arse of himself. I reassured him that he amazing in every way and so we made a reservation and set off.

Well, honestly. It was a gorgeous little pub and the menu sounded great. We were given a seat on a tiny table by the fire (not a criticism mind) and ordered our food. Paul was a little on edge but we got through the starters without any difficulties. The mains arrived and we got stuck in. Everything was going just so until Paul illustrated a particularly bold point with an expansive sweep of his arm, which pushed his pint of Pepsi off the table and down the wall. Nobody noticed, thankfully, despite the pool of Pepsi around my feet. Fair enough, everyone’s allowed one. I went to take a bite of my burger – one of those overly stuffed, towering piles of meat that are the style these days – only to have the cheese covered meat slide out and cascade down my pink shirt. Great! All equal.

Naturally, Paul had to one-up me. He’d ordered pork belly which came with a smashing bit of crackling which, try as he might, Paul couldn’t crack into small enough bits of eat. He couldn’t very well pick it up and eat it with his hands so he tried many different ways to get into it. No joy. I suggested using the knife as a chisel and to tap it from the top with his hands, like hammering a nail. I thought he’d be careful. Of course not. The ham-fisted dolt hit his knife so hard that it not only shot through the crackling but also cleaved his dinner plate in two. He very much won that round. We finished our meal, polished off a cheese-board, paid the bill and left a hearty tip before we were asked to leave. It was a gorgeous meal and a lovely place, mind.

We stopped at the hotel ‘bar’ for a gin and tonic – me resisting the urge to ask if he’d gone to press the juniper berries himself he was gone that long. We won £7 from the Itbox and made for bed, safe and snug in the knowledge that we’d be home in the morning.

advert - freezer-01

We woke at eight, peeling ourselves apart once more like two flip-flops in the sun due to the room being the temperature of lava. I walked around in the shower for ten minutes until I was wet enough to clean myself and then we made for the car. It was here we made a rash decision. You need to understand we were motivated purely by hunger at this point.

We went to a Toby Carvery for our breakfast.

I know, we’re monsters. I’d seen an advert somewhere and it seemed like a filthy proposition – and as I’ve mentioned before, we do love a buffet breakfast.

I barely need to tell you how awful it was. It was foul. I could talk about the fact we were having breakfast on an industrial estate. I could describe the food: baked beans cooked last November, bacon you could reupholster a settee with, sausages with less meat content than a butcher’s pencil, eggs that I’m still working through my teeth now. Hell, I could go on about the fact that they advertise the fact they have ‘special breakfast Yorkshire puddings’ (i.e. the Yorkshire puddings they didn’t sell in the roast dinner the day before that were so hard I could have used them to stop a runaway train) or the ‘cheese and potato hash’ (i.e. the roast potatoes that didn’t get used the day before with a bit of Primula added) or even the ‘special breakfast gravy’ which was yesterday’s gravy with some tomato ketchup in it. This gravy didn’t so much have a skin as a coat of fucking armour. I’ve never had to slice gravy before, I can tell you.

No, what put me off (after all that, shocking!) was the sheer, unadulterated, naked greed from the person sitting a couple of tables away. Everyone makes a pig of themselves at a buffet, yes, but this guy deserved a gold medal. Three plates of breakfast, each heaped like a mini cowpat of excess. He ate and he ate and he ate without barely drawing breath – which was in itself not such a bad thing because when he did breathe it sounded like someone hoovering up a pile of rubber gloves. When he did stop he burped, and it wasn’t a polite wee burp into a hand like decent folk, but a really resounding baaaarp like he was clearing out just another pocket to cram breakfast into. Bleurgh.

I must be clear: I adore a buffet, I’m capable of great amounts of eatings, but have a bit of fucking decorum. When your chin is more bacon fat than skin, stop. This is why we don’t do those all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets in town – you always get someone who treats it as though it’s their last meal and I’m sorry, it makes me feel queasy.

We drove home, ashamed of ourselves for the breakfast and full of regrets that we’d spent as much money as we did on an awful weekend. It was lovely meeting Paul’s brother and Paul’s dad and his partner, but those were the only high points in an otherwise dismal 72 hours. Paul chastised me constantly for driving at 90mph all the way home but in my defence, it was the fear of breaking down and the car having to be towed back to Peterborough that kept my foot firmly on the accelerator. Never again.

We nipped back home to pick up my car and then made our way back to the car rental. Paul, naturally, forgot to have the windows down on the drive over so when the rental guy bent down to check the interior of the car for cleanliness, he visibly paled. I’m surprised he didn’t charge us for making vegetable soup in the boot. Paul also helpfully forgot to un-sync his phone from the car’s entertainment system so when the guy started the car back up, it reconnected with Paul’s phone and started blasting the chorus from Big Girls Don’t Cry by Lolly. A fitting end.

Naturally, upon our return, the cats paid entirely no attention to us and carried on licking their bottoms. We did have a moment of hilarity when we realised we’d accidentally packed the little purple Premier Inn branded bed-runner into our suitcase. I confessed our accidental theft on Twitter and they kindly told us to keep it. I put it on the bed for ten minutes, Paul chortled, then we both realised exactly how many different accountants and salesmen must have wiped their cocks on it. We’ve packed it away in the cupboard for when his mother comes over.

And that’s that. I was disappointed but Paul even more so – he remembered growing up in a place with lots to do. Heraclitus wrote that ‘it is impossible to step into the same river twice‘, and no more so is that true then when you go ‘home’. Bah.

Right then, let’s do the recipe. This serves two fatties or three or four healthy appetites. The main dish cooks all in one pot and we just microwaved some noodles rather than cooking fresh because we’re super lazy. Remember to syn that. As usual, you can use frylight if you prefer for frying, but proper spray olive oil is 7 sprays for half a syn or something, and has the advantage of not tasting like a sweaty arse.

one pot chinese braised beef

to make one pot chinese braised beef you will need:

to make one pot chinese braised beef you should:

  • preheat the oven to 150°C
  • heat a casserole dish on the hob over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • fry the garlic, spring onions, ginger and chilli for about 1 minute
  • toss the beef in the flour and add to the pan, and stir until browned all over
  • add the five-spice and honey and stir until combined
  • add the rice wine vinegar to the pan, scraping up the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula
  • pour in the stock and the soy sauce, mix, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for an hour
  • pull the pak choi apart and place on top of the stew for the last fifteen minutes so it wilts down
  • serve!

We thought this was amazing, no kidding. It’s quite like our Mongolian beef but a lot more saucy.

If you want more beef or fakeaway recipes, hit the buttons below! Oh and we’ve finally added the one-pot section, so click that for more one-pot ideas! PHEW

beefsmallfakeawayssmallonepot

I’d love some comments and feedback!

J

perfect syn free egg fried rice

Tonight’s recipe is syn free egg fried rice – I’m working tonight, alas, so it really is just a recipe for you – but what a recipe! Paul can’t cook rice for the life of him. He just can’t. There’s not many things he can’t do, but we can safely add cooking rice to other items such as bending over without tipping over and climbing more than two flights of stairs without his Fitbit melting off his wrist. We have tried many times to perfect this rice dish but each time it’s ended up soggier than a submarine’s number plate. The amount of times we’ve hurled white mush into the bin and brought out good old Uncle Ben, you have no idea. So, research was needed, and after a bit of digging on the internet it turns out you have to use bone-dry and cooled white rice. Who knew? We chucked in a load of veg and we were on our way! Think of us next time you need a side dish, won’t you?

syn free egg fried rice

to make syn free egg fried rice, you’ll need:

  • however much white rice you want, cooked and cooled all the way through
  • a big handful of peas
  • a carrot, julienned – we discovered this wee thing on Amazon which GASP makes tiny strips of carrot – so easy!
  • one large red pepper – cut into tiny chunks about the size of the peas
  • two eggs – beaten
  • one red onion, sliced fine
  • one bog standard cheap-ass onion, chopped
  • any leftover broccoli you might have, also into tiny chunks
  • a tiny knob of ginger about the size of your thumbnail, minced using one of these bad boys 
  • two cloves of garlic – see comment above
  • LOW-SALT soy sauce
  • a couple of rings of pineapple if you really want to push the boat out

Oh and BONUS, you can cook it in one pan.

to make syn free egg fried rice, you should:

  • prepare all your veg as instructed above, taking only a moment to wipe your brow and buy a grater, mincer or julienne peeler
  • get your big pan nice and hot and squirted with a few sprays of Filippo Berio or other spray oil – I add a few drops of soy sauce here too
  • throw in your eggs and scramble them – really go at them with a wooden spoon
  • once they’re nearly cooked, remove them as best you can into a dish, and throw in the onions, garlic and ginger (not finger, as I originally posted, otherwise you’ll get a spicy grot-slot) and allow to gently soften
  • throw in the rest of your veg and pineapple and a good glug of soy sauce and allow to soften
  • add the rice, stir, and warm it through completely
  • once everything is hot and mixed, add the scrambled egg, and stir well!

Serve topped with some cut spring onions. Easy. The key to this recipe is getting everything a nice uniform shape and making sure everything is cooked through.

Of course, if you’re looking for some dishes to serve this with, pick something lovely from our massive list of fakeaway Chinese dishes! Click the icon below.

fakeawayssmall

BYEEEE.

J

beef satay with peanut dipping sauce

Beef satay with peanut dipping sauce? On Slimming World? Surely not! But YES. Let me tell you, it actually tasted like something you’d get in a Chinese restaurant too, as opposed to the usual Slimming World slop-swap, where the end result isn’t so much divorced from the original as moved to a new city and never seeing the children. You know when people theatrically slap their hand to their open mouth in shock? Well, I didn’t have time to do that as I was too busy making sure Paul didn’t eat my share. Recipe below.

Can I just take a moment to say I thoroughly enjoyed Batman v Superman? I just like to think that Ben Affleck is probably reading this blog, dying to know how to turn ASDA beef chunks into something palatable, and after all of the criticism he’s faced over his boring film, this might cheer him up. Plus, Paul and I both agree that you have quite an impressive knob in Gone Girl, and I’m not talking about Rosamund Pike. I went to see Batman vs Superman with an old friend (literally, she’s well old) and it was all very enjoyable, even in blurry 3D-vision. I’m a fan of 3D if done well (Saw 3D, of all things, was fun) but not if it’s just to make the odd leaf or snowflake look like it’s coming towards you. No amount of blistering 3D detail is going to make me think I’m right there in Gothametroplis (right?) – my arse-cheeks turning to concrete on the rock-hard cinema seats keep me grounded.

Oh, that and the little shits along the row who, along with their father, spent every other minute looking at their phones and being unnecessarily rambunctious. Naturally, as a Brit, I tutted and sighed for two hours until I was on the verge of hyperventilating and had to blow into my pic-and-mix bag for comfort. The father took a bloody phone call at one point! Unless it’s a doctor ringing up to tell you that “yes, Mr Smith, we’ve found you a brain, you’ll need to come in for fitting immediately” you don’t take a bloody phone call in the cinema. If I had my way, everyone would have their hands stapled to the arm-rest and if your phone rang or you needed a poo, well tough titty. The cherry on the cake was towards the end I went to get the last sour apple snake from my bag (not a euphemism) (also, yes, hypocritical) when one of the children sighed like he was blowing out the candles on a birthday cake and said ‘I CAN’T WATCH THE FILM IF PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO RUIN IT‘. I’ve never felt so chagrined. 

Anyway, today we’ve said at least two things that hammer home how old we’re getting – first, Paul suggested we go out “for a drive in the car“. I don’t know why we do it, we invariably get stuck behind someone for whom the fourth gear is uncharted territory and I end up going apocalyptic behind them trying to overtake. I have to come home and punch a brick wall to calm down. The second line that tumbled from my ageing lips was the clincher though – when Paul mentioned that our home town could do with some decent flowers being planted (in itself a very Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells thing to say), I replied by saying ‘yes, but the young’uns would just pull them up and cause a mess‘.

May I remind you I’m 31.

Goodness me. I almost stopped at the Lloyds Pharmacy on my left there and then for a hearing test and a fitting for Tena for Men but well, it would take a while to get parked and with my aching hips, getting out of the car is too much of a chore. So instead we drove to the beach and ate sandwiches in the car whilst listening to Gardeners’ Question Time and nodding at nothing in particular.

Ah well, to the satay! It’s something I always order whenever we get a takeaway, though sadly our favourite local takeaway seems to have closed down. I like to think they couldn’t keep up with our demands. I’ve definitely had more than eight ‘it’s my birthday, can we have a free giant spring rolls please thanks‘ events this year. I certainly hope it hasn’t been closed down by the council because that would bring our total of ‘favourite then condemned’ eateries to three. We used to have a Chinese takeaway literally across the street from us when we lived in Gosforth (more Kenton actually, but Gosforth sounds posher and well, we didn’t have a trampoline or discarded mattress in our front garden, so we didn’t belong in Kenton*) which was fantastic.

Paul was confused when he first went to order because the tiny, very Chinese looking lady behind the counter spoke with a Geordie accent that sounded like she was possessed by Tim Healy. And he’s not even dead. It really didn’t gel with her beautiful cheongsam dress and I-kid-you-not chopsticks in her hair bun.

Still, the food was delicious and tasty up until the point the ‘Scores on the Doors’ folk came around and rated them zero out of five for cleanliness, food safety and hygiene. Nothing says did you enjoy your chow-mein like seeing it again two minutes after eating from one end or twenty minutes from the other. I must have a stomach of asbestos though as so few things ever upset my natural balance.

We now get our Chinese food from a car-park in Morpeth. So far, so good – they certainly don’t seem to be using the same microfibre cloth to wipe their work-surfaces and their bumholes, so they’re already up on the Gosforth Chinese.

* Kenton is lovely really. Please don’t firebomb my house or spray me with Greggs crumbs as you refute my jokey aspersions.

beef satay with peanut dipping sauce

to make beef satay with peanut dipping sauce you will need:

  • 700g beef, cubed (why not use the beef you’ve got from our wonderful Musclefood Freezer Filler? You get a couple of packs with your mince, chicken and bacon, and it has the added benefit of not feeling like you’re chewing on a bike tyre like so much of the beef in your average cheap supermarket beef does – click here to order. Oh, and we’re running a competition to win one of our £50 hampers – click here and enter!)
  • 8 shallots or two large white onions (shallots are far nicer though, much sweeter)
  • a little knob of ginger, peeled
  • haha, I said little knob
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, sliced (can’t get lemongrass? Use a teaspoon of lemon rind)
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fennel (or crushed fennel seeds)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few squirts of olive oil spray

for the peanut sauce:

  • 4 tbsp reduced-fat peanut butter (18 syns) (be sensible here, a tablespoon is a tablespoon, but don’t go scooping it out like it’s mortar and you’re building a brick wall at gunpoint)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sweetener
  • 2 drops of sriracha (or any hot sauce)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

to make beef satay with peanut dipping sauce you should:

  • place all of the ingredients together (except the beef) in a food processor (aside from the stuff for the peanut sauce, obviously) and blitz until you get a thick paste – loosen it off with water if it’s too thick but you do want a paste, not a slop
  • in a large bowl mix together the beef and the marinade until it’s well coated, and leave for at least six hours (or overnight)
  • push the cubes of beef onto skewers and grill under a high heat for about 15 minutes, turning regularly

Feel free to ramp up the speed factor by adding peppers and mushrooms onto your skewers. Also, if you’ve got wooden skewers, remember to soak them for as long as you can – basically, if you’ve got wood, get it wet. Lesson to live your life by.

To make the dipping sauce, mix together all of the ingredients with 4 tbsp of water – to make a really thick paste. keep mixing in 1 tbsp water at a time to the required consistency.

Enjoy!

 

sizzlin’ steak

I’m going to warn you, I’m in a right old grump today. But what’s new! I write better when I’m angry anyway.

You have no idea how much it pains me to write sizzlin’ in the title instead of sizzling, but Paul threatened to withhold sex if I didn’t acquiesce, and so here we are. In a perfect world there would be no need for unnecessary shortenings of random words, but it’s not a perfect world, and I’m not a perfect person. So sizzlin’ it is. Sizzling puts me in mind of those awful pubs where they bring your food out and slide it out onto a scalding hot bit of stone so it ‘sizzles’ and you’re supposed to sit there rapturous whilst your food bubbles. Perhaps it’s because I’m a curmudgeonly-old-before-his-type fart but I don’t get it – I’ve seen stuff heating up before, I’ve used a pan in my lifetime. If they brought it to the table and heated the food via some Rube Goldberg machine that involved flamethrowers and magnetite, I’d perhaps crack a smile. Those types of pub are always full of the same type of people:

  1. those who can’t eat their Sunday dinner without the application of three separate condiments that have to be brought to the table by some harried waitress with a lot more consonants than vowels in her first name;
  2. access day visits from dads sharing wan smiles and thin conversation with the top of their iPhone-engrossed children; and
  3. the elderly, fussing and gumming their way through a special menu printed in Times New Roman Size 32 so everything looks like this:

“puree of turnip served with turkey paste and parsnip wisps”

OK, so I exaggerate, but still. 

It’s been an uneventful day. We had two things in mind – go to Costco to see if they had the giant bar of Dairy Milk that was 10kg, £160 and came with a tray of prepped insulin on the side, and to Dobbies – our local garden centre. It’s a terribly posh garden centre, you can tell because the person blocking the exit tries to sell us an ‘orangerie’ on the way out, rather than double-glazing. An orangerie! Just the thing – I was beginning to grow concerned that my lemon tree was becoming a mite chilled in the North Sea air. Actually, confession: we’ve already got an orangerie, but because I’m not a pretentious tagnut, I call it a greenhouse. He’s actually stopped asking us anyway, possibly because last time he did so I replied that ‘I couldn’t possibly, I’m Jewish‘ and rushed past aghast. I could almost hear his brain whirring trying to work it out, by which time we were away.

Costco, then. Costco on a Sunday. Four weeks before Christmas. On ‘sample’ day. On a list of fun activities, that sits just above peeling off my face with the edge of a corned beef tin and just below shitting out an armchair. Busy? We didn’t walk around, we just blended with a group of around 200 into one giant shell-suited mass and went as one, gliding down the aisles grabbings things as we went. I was gutted – there’s nothing I like more than taking my time, judging people who are buying 84 Andrex Quilted and wondering who the fuck decides on a Sunday that what they really need to buy is 24 jars of chilli peppers. Naturally, because it was sample day, every single aisle was capped by some poor dolt in a pinny handing out ‘samples’ and, as a consequence, 50 or so slack-jawed simpletons all jostling and pushing to try and get a paper cup with FOUR FUCKING HARIBO in them. I can’t abide queues at the best of times and wouldn’t have stopped if they were offering to tickle my balls and give me cold hard cash, but jesus, the lack of dignity people display over a ‘freebie’! I was tempted to spit my chewing gum on the floor and shout ‘FREE PRE-CHEWED MINTS’ to cause a stampede but the exit was far away and I didn’t have my running shoes on. 

You witness this ugliness on Black Friday and during the sales and I just can’t get my head around it. I can’t! You see them on the television, queueing up outside of Next so at 5am they can rush in and have the pick of all the shit that no person wanted during the only time of the year pretty much guaranteed to empty your stock room, so what’s left is the absolute dregs. Wahey! I’m sure Aunt Marjorie will be delighted with her jumper stained with the greasy fingers of the desperate and the nonsensical. There was a guy on Look North the other day who had been queueing outside of Currys all night in anticipation of the bargains galore he expected from Black Friday. He was the only one who turned up. When they interviewed him on the television you could see in his eyes that he regretted his decision, but clearly didn’t want to back down, and he was later shown staggering shamefaced out of the shop after two hours (TWO HOURS! The only way I’d spend two hours in Currys would be if I’d had a cardiac arrest in the TV section, and that’s pretty bloody likely given how high their prices are). What had he picked up? I couldn’t see everything, but there were at least four graphics cards, two blu-ray players and some speakers. Not good speakers, I add. It was as if he was the sole contestant in the world’s most depressing version of Fun House – one where Melanie and Martina had long since died and Pat Sharp didn’t have a haircut that looked like Stevie Wonder had done it as a favour. He claimed to have spent £4,500, and all I could say to Paul was ‘Yes, but what price dignity?’. Takes all sorts.

It took us almost 45 minutes in Costco to pick up a wheelbarrow of tea-bags, a mountain of coffee and a box of Rice Krispies so big that I feel like I’m in a shit version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids every time I look at it. It then took us almost an hour to get out of the ‘Metrocentre’ area, which was awash with red-faced families in oversized cars all trying to cram into the same lane. Luckily, we had the audiobook version of Carrie to finish in the car, so we were fairly content, though god knows what passer-bys must have thought to hear some American woman screaming about dirtypillows and menstrual blood coming from our car. I’d love to be telekinetic but I’d definitely end up being sent to Hell afterwards – people who so much as blocked my way for a moment in Marks and Spencers would be sent flying up into the air-conditioning fans and turned to jam, or all those Audis that insist on cutting in at the last second and blocking the box junction outside of where I park – they’d end up crumbled into a cube no smaller than the dice from a Travel Monopoly set. The world would be on fire before the end of the week, I almost guarantee it. I already spend roughly forty hours a week looking crazily at the back of someone’s head and willing their brain to start leaking out of their ears. Sigh.

Dobbies was an absolute no-no, too. Quite literally, we got there, and there was no parking and no hope of securing a spot, given the place was awash with those fucking awful white Range Rovers (oh look at me, I’m driving a car designed for mud, all-terrain and exciting driving, and I only ever use it to ferry little Quentissimo and Angelica-Foccacia to their organic flute lessons) (bitch) and other such ‘luxury’ cars. We drove around and around and around and around until I felt like Sandra Bullock in Gravity and we admitted defeat. Paul and I did get a colossal serving of schadenfreude though with the sight of a spotlessly white BMW being completely and utterly trapped on the muddy overflow parking field. The silly arse behind the wheel kept spinning his tyres, sinking him even further into the mud, whilst his granite-faced wife looked coldly at everyone who went past laughing. Hey, it’s not my fault your husband is a useless tosser who doesn’t know how to pull a car from mud. We did, along with everyone else, smirk in that very British way when he got out of the car and started shouting at it. KNOB POWER ACTIVATE. I like to think he went home and had a good hard look at his life.

Anyway, that’s enough bile. I feel like someone who has shouted the anger out, and now I’m ready to give you a recipe. So without a moment more of hesitation, I present to you sizzlin’ beef. Sigh. SIZZLING. IT’S FUCKING SIZZLING. SIZZLE SIZZLE CRASH BANG WALLOP IT’S THE PRINCESS.

sizzlin' steak

to make sizzlin’ steak, you’ll need:

to make sizzlin’ steak, you should:

  • in a small jug mix together the bicarbonate of soda with 125ml of water and mix until well dissolved
  • pour the water and soda over the chopped steak in a bowl and leave to tenderise for an hour (but no longer)
  • meanwhile in a small jug mix together the worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, passata, honey and 3 tbsp water and mix well. set aside.
  • drain the meat in a sieve and pat dry using a clean tea towel or kitchen roll. 
  • if you want it to sizzle at the end, place an empty iron griddle pan in the oven and heat to 250 degrees
  • heat a large saucepan over a high temperature with a little oil and add the meat – it will froth and look gross but that’s fine – spoon out the steak after about 2-3 minutes, wipe the inside of the pan and then put the meat back in until it’s browned all over
  • remove the meat from the pan and place onto a plate
  • put the pan back on the heat and add the onions – stir fry for a few minutes until softened and starting to turn golden
  • remove from the pan and place into a bowl
  • add the meat back into the pan and pour over the sauce
  • bring it to the boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes – it should go nice and sticky
  • remove the pan from the oven and place the onions around the outside, and then spoon the steak into the middle – it should sizzle! (if you’re skipping the sizzling part, you can serve it as normal)
  • serve, and enjoy!

We served ours with a tit of rice, as you can see. We’re classy bitches, see?

J

sticky chinese chicken

I’ve just received a bastard speeding ticket from Corsica! We went in bloody September. You can imagine that I’m impotent with rage, although, fair dues, I was speeding – 78km/h instead of 70km/h. I’m tempted to appeal against it on the grounds that there was no possible way the car we hired could get anywhere near 78km/h – it struggled backing us off the driveway let alone speeding through the Corsican roads like we’d stolen it. Bah.

The last time I got a speeding ticket was for doing 53mph in a 50mph zone and it was all very British – slightly apologetic letter, strong grounds of appeal, nip along to a speeding awareness course and don’t do it again. This French ticket was full of French disdain – every last word in French, four different sheets of A4 in tiny writing with lots of aggressive red underlining – I can imagine that some paunchy-faced chief in an administrative office in deepest Roubaix scoffing at my infraction, spitting a wad of Gauloise-laced phlegm into a bin and ringing AVIS demanding my credit card.

Ah well. I was the one speeding, so I’m the biggest arse of them all. That’s one thing I can never get my head around – people who moan about getting caught speeding. You’re speeding! We all do it – I’m terrible for it – but you can’t complain about getting caught when you’re actively breaking the law. It’s not like taking an extra biscuit from the packet – you do run the risk of turning an old biddy into human jam on the front of your bumper if you lose control.

The speed awareness course was surprisingly good fun, though. The car-park outside was rammed full of Vauxhall Insignias, Audis (shock!) and various shittily-modded Acne Carriages belonging to the chavs. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly better things to do on a Thursday morning than sit in a hot room in a Holiday Inn with a load of chavs and salesmen, but the course itself was interesting enough. I thought I was going to have three hours of being told I’m a naughty boy for being a bit savage on my accelerator but once we got past the awkward talk and the dishwater coffee it was alright, though of course we had to spend a ridiculous amount of time introducing ourselves like we were on a shit gameshow.

Anyway – I’ve paid it, so I’m just going to sulk about it all night now. Here’s a recipe for any spare chicken you may have sitting around – it’s not exciting, it is just chicken and chips…but still! To make it a little more Slimming World friendly, chuck in some crunchy veg with the chicken. This is the kind of thing we have when we don’t want to cook – it’s just make a sauce, pour on, fry off. Easy!

sticky chinese chicken

to make sticky chinese chicken, you’ll need:

and to make sticky chinese chicken, you should:

  • mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook your meat according to how you like it – add vegetables towards the end if you have some
  • when everything is cooked, pour the sauce mixture over and bring it to a boil – this may only take a few seconds!
  • turn the heat down slightly and let the mixture boil and reduce
  • when everything is nicely coated and sticky, remove from the heat and serve immediately

Serve with chips, rice, veg…anything. Go for it!

J

stir fried greens with plum sauce

Man, I feel rough as a badger’s arse this evening. So you’ll forgive me if I go and tip every potion and lotion into the bath and go baste for a good hour.  I have a lengthy Corsica entry typed up but it needs proofing and oh god, I am boring myself. So, here is a recipe to go with the delicious garlic beef we served yesterday. PRAY FOR MOJO. Can’t claim credit for this one – well, we can, we made it suitable for Slimming World, but it’s actually bastardised from a Wagamama recipe. Oh my.

stir fried greens with plum sauce

to make stir fried greens with plum sauce, you’ll need:

  • 200g dried noodles
  • 150g broccoli florets
  • 1 onion, sliced thickly
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 pak choi (or 2 baby pak choi), chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp plum sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn), dissolved in 2 tbsp chicken stock

to make stir fried greens with plum sauce, you should:

  • prepare all of your ingredients beforehand- trust me, it makes things MUCH easier
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions – drain and set aside
  • heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • stir fry the broccoli and onion for about two minutes
  • add the ginger, garlic and pa choi and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes
  • add the plum sauce, soy sauce and chilli and cook for another two minutes
  • add the stock and the dissolved corn flour and stir for about half a minute until it all thickens up
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to combine everything
  • serve!

Easy!

J

 

beef in a honey and black pepper sauce

Remember me twittering on about our fancy lights? We’ve went and bought a new gadget – it’s a NEST smoke alarm. We need a new smoke alarm – we’ve been using our old one to prop the dishwasher up, and given the amount of vodka and aftershave in our house, it’s too risky not to have a working system. Now, this isn’t just a smoke alarm. It’s fancy. Real fancy. Our house is becoming the gadget city we always wanted, see. This smoke alarm hooks into my WiFi and will alert me if the batteries are low or if it detects smoke. And how does it do this? IT BLOODY WELL TALKS. Admittedly it’s in a plummy ‘don’t be scared, but you’re about to be cremated’ voice, whereas if I’m about to die, I want a fucking air-raid siren, not Joanna Lumley whispering me to the grave. If I’m honest, we only bought it because it a) works with our thermostat (it’ll thoughtfully turn the boiler off if it’s pumping out more poisonous smoke than the shelter outside a Mecca Bingo at the interlude) and b) it glows. It will momentarily glow green when you shut all the lights off so you know it works. It’ll glow red if you’re on fire. It’ll even glow white for 20 seconds in the hallway if you get up for a piss, which is handy if you’re like us and your bathroom lights are so intense that your helmet blisters as you urinate. 

Speaking of bright, they say you should always look on the bright side of life. I generally do. My days aren’t often filled with wonder and drama but they’re always littered with tiny moments of joy or laughter, and that’s a nice way to live. For example, I take great solace in, every day at one attosecond past five’o’clock, I hurtle out of my work office, straight to my car on the 11th floor of the car-park, throw ‘The Final Countdown’ onto Spotify and hurtle down the ramps as fast I can so that as my car pulls out of the car-park, ‘IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN’ plays. There’s just enough time to do it as long as no-one gets in my way. That said, more often than enough, I’ll get stuck behind someone who’s as thick as a submarine door and is trying to operate the barrier by inserting her Boots Advantage card and calling for help on a box of Lillets. But it’s still good fun – a simple pleasure, but a pleasure none the less. I mean, that happiness normally dissipates a second later as I’m stuck behind some numpty in a BMW who thinks the indicator stalks are somewhere to rest her ankles when she’s got a client in the back-seat.

The reason I mentioned happiness is because I actually got myself upset earlier – and you need to realise, I have a heart of solid black granite. The only time I get upset is when Paul eats more than half of the Ben and Jerry’s. GOD-DAMN IT. No, I was reading an article on the BBC News (link) about a young Iraqi gay lad who was forced to leave his country simply because he was gay. His own dad told him that he would be happy for ISIS to chuck him off a tall building to his death, or burn him alive, simply because of his biological leanings. I couldn’t comprehend it. Men are being sent into the desert with their arseholes glued shut so that they die an incredibly painful death just because they like a bit of cock. All very distressing and we shouldn’t linger on the details.

What it did make me think though was how bloody lucky I am / we are to live in a country where being gay just isn’t a problem. Not really, not on the scale it once was. The fact that I can live with my husband in the middle of Menopauseville, Northumberland and no-one really bats an eye is testament to how far we’ve come. My nana, god bless her, told all the old wrinklies at the WI about my wedding and challenged anyone who had a problem with it. She literally took all comments on her whiskery chin. I can’t personally remember the last time I experienced any sort of homophobia.

Sure, there’s the well-meant but incredibly offensive comments – I was told once by a colleague that ‘my religion doesn’t agree with gays, but don’t worry, I can tolerate you’ – like I was a bad smell, or an ingrown toenail. I resisted the urge to snip back that I don’t agree with grown men in frocks putting their holy willies into little boy’s bottoms, but what’s the use. You also get a lot of people asking ‘how it works’, like there is a hidden user guide (a gayde?) that explains all the mechanics (when he pushes, so do you), but that’s fair enough. I don’t mind answering questions as long as you’re comfortable with vivid descriptions and use of the term santorum. It’s a given now that if I’m filling out a form, I’ll be able to choose ‘Civil Partnered’ or ‘Married’ as opposed to ‘Living with Partner’, which was simply a euphemism for being a chutney-ferret.

Actually, the most devastating thing about filling out forms these days is that I’ve gone up an age-bracket – I now fall into the 30-34 category. Sniff. Might as well order myself some piss-knickers now. Sigh.

iPad running slowly now, clearly don’t feel with my sass. So let me chuck you a recipe like the decadent bitch that I am.

beef in honey and black pepper sauce

you’ll need these (serves two fatties):

  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 600g dried noodles
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 400g diced beef
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • half a cabbage head, chopped

 

and you’ll need to do this

  • soak/cook the noodles according to the instructions
  • put a pan of water on and boil the broccoli and cabbage for about 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • honey,  soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin and black pepper gets whisked together next, and set aside
  • into a pan goes a little oil or Frylight and heat until it starts to smoke
  • next, add the onion and reduce the heat immediately to medium-high
  • cook for about a minute
  • throw in the beef and cook it however you like it (we always prefer a bit of pink meat…)
  • empty the pan of the beef and onion and set aside
  • return the pan to the heat
  • final stage now – add the sauce mixture to the pan and thicken into a syrup
  • add the broccoli and cabbage to the pan, and stir
  • chuck in the noodles and the beef to the pan and mix well
  • enjoy!

Mmmm!

J

slimming world spring rolls

Firstly, a big hello and welcome to all our new readers!

We’re spring-cleaning this weekend (hence the savings article is taking a while to write) and amongst other things, a good amount of time has been spent hoovering the cats, both of whom really quite enjoy having the nozzle from the hoover ran over them. When we first got them they were typical cats who reacted to us having the temerity to hoover by exploding into giant cat-form, clawing off our faces and shitting on the carpet, but two years of having a roomba trundling around during the day has desensitised them both to the point where they enjoy a good vacuum. Sola has picked up an annoying habit though – every time you go into the bathroom to use the netty, she climbs onto the sink and meows until you turn the tap on for her to drink from. Clearly the fact she has her own filtered water dispenser isn’t quite good enough, she’s got to ruin my ten minutes a day doing the puzzles in Take a Break surrounded by my own miasma.

Speaking of Take a Break – here’s a promise. I’m going to get a really naff tip published in Take a Break or one of the other housewife-bothering shitrags. I love those magazines – Chat, Pick Me Up, That’s Life – it’s like I’ve parked outside the smoking section at Mecca Bingo and I’m listening to all the gossip. I’m sure they used to be decent though – I quite enjoyed reading my mother’s Take a Break in the bath on a Thursday evening, but even then I reckon I was beyond a good half of their readership who still read with their fingers under the text and their lips sounding out the bigger words. I’m not sure of the tip I’m going to use, but it’ll have to work hard to beat my favourite scene where someone whose name on facebook invariably had ‘MUMMYOFTHREE’ sandwiched in the middle of it took an old beer fridge and affixed to it her bathroom wall. A fridge! In the fucking bathroom, acting as a medicine/toiletries cabinet! Because nothing says class like getting your tampons out of a glass cupboard with STELLA ARTOIS emblazoned on the front.

Whilst we’re on the subject of trashy literature (that’s two smooth segues in my writing today, I’m rather proud), I’m knocking together a food diary and plan to have it bound in February. I see all those food diaries people have where they dutifully write down everything they don’t mind the consultant seeing and they’re always the same, very cutesy-poo with inspirational quotes and fucking cupcakes (fucking not used as a verb, mind, I’d probably buy that book…) so I’m trying to build an antithesis of those. Let’s see how we get on. They’ll be nicely bound and printed mind, I don’t do half measures!

Now, we were going to have baked cod for tea tonight but frankly, after an afternoon spent dusting and shredding paperwork like an MP fearing a visit from Operation Yewtree, we wanted something a bit more substantial, so we’re having burgers instead.

fatabstard

RETRO RECIPE TIME. Click here – it’s one of our very first recipes, way back when…

Oh young James! You were so innocent, so young those many, many…weeks ago. Actually give those burgers a try, they’re delicious. We added a fried egg with a soft yolk onto this burger and a bacon medallion under the burger. Heart attack in a bun but as long as you HEA your cheese and HEB your bread, it’ll be syn free apart from any sauces you add!

But in the spirit of a) being fat and b) being generous, here’s a second recipe for you lot. Syn free spring rolls!

SPRINGROLLS

to make slimming world spring rolls, you’ll need:

ingredients: eight lasagne sheets, one pack of Sainbury’s red pepper stir fry mix (or any other stir fry veg mix, but I like the crunchy peppers!), soy sauce plus any old bobbins that you have left over – in my case, I added a couple of cut up rashers of bacon and some mushrooms.

to make slimming world spring rolls, you should:

recipe: do your stir fry first – biggest pan you have, plus a tiny bit of oil (or boo hiss, Frylight) and a few drops of soy sauce. Get that pan hot! Chuck in your veg, meat if you have any, mushrooms and stir stir stir. Cook fast and cook hot. Once cooked through, put in a bowl by the side. Now, boil up a big pan of water, and when boiling excitedly, chuck in your lasagne sheets. Space them out by dropping them in one at a time otherwise I find they clump. After five minutes, they should be soft.

Work quickly here. Take one sheet out at a time, otherwise the others will harden up whilst you roll your first roll. Pop the first sheet on a flat surface, add a bit of the stir fry, roll up and place ‘join’ down on a baking tray. Repeat seven more times. Little spritz of olive oil/Frylight over the top, stick in the oven for 20 mins on 180degrees or until they look cooked through.

Serve with soy sauce for dipping!

extra-easy: yep! and perfectly cheap too – just some old sheets and any old gubbins you have in the veg drawer. They actually taste decent too, as opposed to most ‘snacks’ based on tasty things turned into Slimming World joys…

Enjoy!

J

hiyusha chuka

A quick post tonight as I don’t want the glare of the computer screen to give away the fact Paul and I are in the house, lest any trick or treaters come to the door. Nah actually, I wouldn’t mind but there hasn’t been a single one, despite us buying delicious chocolate to hand out. I’m not sure if it’s because parents don’t want to take their children to the gay couple who live in Cubs Towers at the end of the street, there does seem something sinister about it. I took the afternoon off today in the vain hope that I could find a pumpkin as a nice surprise for Paul. Could I find one? Could I balls. I tried Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons – all to no avail. So naturally, I got the biggest potato I could find out of the shed, hollowed it out and cut the word ‘MINGE’ out of it and stuck a tealight in it. Popped it on the doorstep to make Paul clutch his sides with mirth when he got back, only for him to stand on it. Why do I bother.

ANYWAY. Tonight’s tea – something new – hiyashu chuka (or at least my bastardised version of it), which is cooked plain noodles with a soy and grated garlic/ginger dressing, together with various bits and bobs to mix in.

Hirushu chuka

No need for a recipe breakdown on this! I’ve given it a syn value of two syns but that’s being very, very strict – I only used a teaspoon of sesame oil for the dressing, plus 5tbsp of soy, 3tbsp of rice vinegar, bit of grated garlic and a bit of grated ginger. Everything the light touches on that plate is syn-free, and the peppers, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and (possibly) the beansprouts are syn free. Filling, tasty and delicious.

You’ll notice we’ve actually went out and bought some white plates because our old black plates made everything look so morbid and grim. We’re not quite at the stage where we’ll be buying a lighting rig, but I feel the photos are getting better.

Oh, and something for Hallowe’en – did you used to enjoy Sabrina the Teenage Witch, with her talking cat, barely concealed drug-eyes and fat/thin Aunties? Well there’s been a reunion! Who’d ever think Sabrina would talk about her magic pussy? Gosh.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b858rOO21Fw]

Happy hallowe’en

J