thai (chicken) meatballs

We have a restaurant in Stockholm called Berns Asiatiska which I’ve always heard is supposed to be really good. The venue is a hotel, restaurant, night club, and event venue – for example there are often shows there during Stockholm Fashion Week – and I’d been to the night club before, but not the restaurant. I’d heard a lot about it though, especially the brunch buffet. It’s quite expensive, but apparently worth it with a number of sushi, dumpling and other hot food options available. But they say the best thing is the dessert buffet.

In February we were getting an influx of new people at work (they have two big dates – one in February and one in September – where all the newly graduated lawyers start) and decided to go for a group lunch at Berns. Because we were such a large group we were given three options to pre-order our lunch from, and I chose their Thai meatballs in red curry. I’m not usually a huge fan of curry – I have too many bad memories of curry powder flavoured things from school – but the other two dishes had too many things in them I didn’t like and I’d heard good things. Thai curry is also more to my taste than Indian curry, because it often has coconut milk and lemon grass and such in it. Either way though, I was definitely both impressed and pleased with the dish.

Fast-forward to yesterday and the eternal ‘what do I do for dinner today while my slow cooker makes food for the week?’. I’d had a lingering craving for Asian food since we’d had Thai takeaway on Saturday and had found a chicken and cashew nut recipe for the slow cooker I was going to throw together for my lunch boxes for the week, but still couldn’t shake that craving. So I was browsing Ica’s Asian recipes and came across a recipe for chicken meatballs in a Phanaeng curry which made me think about the Thai meatballs at Berns. Though I don’t think they were made of chicken and I know they were served in a red curry sauce, I figured that the Ica recipe would still be a nice way to fill that craving.

The recipe was very simple and called for basically four things: sesame seeds, chicken mince, Phanaeng curry sauce, and a wok-mix of vegetables. However, my local Ica didn’t have the ready wok-mix, so instead I just bought some of what was in it and chopped it up myself. You could probably use frozen vegetable mixes as well though, depending on what you want in yours. Also, I added bread crumbs to my meatballs, because I didn’t feel like they were holding together very well when I was first trying to roll them.


Ingredients (3-4 portions)

500g chicken mince

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp bread crumbs

0.5 tsp salt

4-600 ml Phanaeng curry sauce (‘Paneng curry grytbas’ at Ica – one tin is 400 ml)

90g broccoli

90g carrot

100g white cabbage

or 300g wok-mix vegetables

1 tsp oil

3-4 portions rice


Boil the rice as per the instructions.

Mix the mince, sesame seeds, salt, and bread crumbs and shape into balls. I found the mince mix very sticky and felt that it helped to grease my palms with a bit of oil.

Bring the Phanaeng sauce to boil in a pan/pot, then add the meatballs and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan/pot with a lid and leave to simmer for 8 minutes, turning the meatballs over halfway through.

In the meantime stir-fry your vegetables in the oil.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and add the vegetables. Stir so they’re well-coated, then return the meatballs to the pan. (I didn’t do this, I just plated up, and I felt like my vegetables didn’t get covered enough by the sauce.)

Serve with rice.


The original recipe said to use 300g mince, but because they only had chicken mince in 500g packs, I used the whole 500g and therefore got three quite big portions out of this. In fact, I didn’t eat all the meatballs with each portion, so I could have probably made it into four portions instead.

I would, however, recommend that if you do use 500g mince instead of 300g, you also increase the amount of sauce somewhat. I only used the 400 ml stated in the recipe (and above) and I felt like I would have wanted a bit more. Whether you want to add more vegetables is up to you, but for three portions I thought it worked out quite well.

/t

chicken noodle soup (ramen-ish)

This looks so drab and boring but it actually wasn’t! Of course it’s not the most exciting noodle soup I’ve ever had, but at the time it really filled a craving.

I was heading home from work and didn’t have any inspiration for what I wanted to eat.  I had one leftover chicken breast from something and I felt like I should use it, but I didn’t know what for. Browsing the supermarket recipe selection I came upon this recipe that they called Asian chicken soup and it sounded simple yet excotic-ish enough to fill me needs that day. It’s not a very complicated, several ingredient Asian ramen, but it fit the bill then and there.


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Ingredients (1 portion)

1 chicken breast or thigh

4 mushrooms

0.75 red chili

0.5 yellow onion

1 clove of garlic

0.5 tbsp fresh ginger

2 tbsp chicken stock

300 ml water

50g noodles

Thai basil


Fry sliced mushrooms, chicken and onion in oil in a pot for a few minutes.

Add chili, ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.

Pour over chicken stock and water. Add the noodles and cook for as long as the instructions on the pack says.

If you want to, add Thai basil (I had it at home already) or spring onion to your soup. I can really recommend Thai basil because it brought an extra flavour-note to the soup.


And that’s it. Not including chopping time this will take you max 10 minutes to make, and when you’re craving Asian food or just want something light and simple it’s a perfect quick fix.

/t

tagliatelle with mushrooms and courgette

Another easy and quick pasta recipe for those days that you either just cannot be bothered to make something more elaborate, or you just want a creamy, courgettey, goodness. With some chicken. And mushrooms.


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Ingredients (4 portions)

4 portions of tagliatelle pasta

600g chicken

2 courgettes

150g mushrooms

250 ml cream

parmesan

salt

pepper

pine nuts if you want


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There really isn’t much to it. Start by boiling the pasta.

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and fry until cooked through. Set aside.

Cut the courgette and mushrooms into smaller pieces and fry. Return the chicken to the pan. Add cream and parmesan to taste (I think I used about 50g). Leave to simmer for a bit and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with the pasta and pine nuts.

/t

review: satay sauce

When I lived in London I lived near Westfield Stratford, and they have a great food court with food from many different countries and cultures.

One of the restaurants at the food court is a Chinese one called Lotus Leaf, and they do a really good chicken satay. It’s not like the satay I was used to before – you know the one with the plain chicken skewers and rice, and then the sauce either on the side for dipping or poured over – which I guess could be the Thai version? Instead this one is served with the rice on a plate and the satay sauce in a bowl combined with chicken, peppers, onion, and carrots. The sauce itself also tastes slightly different – as if there’s more to it than just a peanut sauce.

For a while now I’ve been really craving this type of chicken satay, so I decided to try and make it at home. Being somewhat lazy and somewhat cheap, i.e. not wanting to go out and buy all the necessary ingredients, I decided to try a jar version. I was stood at the supermarket trying to decide between the Blue Dragon and Santa Maria, but Santa Maria looked more like the dipping version so I went Blue Dragon.

I decided to make mine with chicken, broccoli, and peppers, and serve with Jasmine rice.


20160918_200737 (2).jpgIngredients (3-4 portions)

400g chicken

250g broccoli

2 peppers

1 jar Blue Dragon Satay Cooking Sauce


Stir-fry the chicken until cooked through. Set aside and stir-fry the broccoli and peppers for 3-4 minutes. Throw everything back in the wok and pour over the sauce. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then serve with rice.


20160919_121359 (2).jpgFirst of all, I don’t think this sauce is made for covering anything other than chicken. The reason I’m saying that is that it claims to be four portions of sauce in the jar, but the sauce didn’t quite cover everything.

Second, it didn’t taste anything like the Lotus Leaf’s satay – which was a huge disappointment. Once I got over the disappointment of the small amount of sauce and the taste-mismatch, it did taste quite nice. It just wasn’t what I wanted.

I think the sauce was a little too sweet, and I wonder if mixing the Blue Dragon sauce with the Santa Maria sauce would make it less so. It kind of feels like a mix between a peanut sauce and a sweet chili sauce.

I also think that if you want to serve it with rice, you should double the sauce or reduce the chicken and vegetables. However, I stir-fried it with noodles for dinner one day, and that was much better in terms of ‘sauce-coverage’.

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All in all, it’s an ok sauce, but I don’t think I’d use it again – unless I mix it with a jar of the Santa Maria just to try.

/t

review: kelda’s balsamico & roast garlic stew base

One day when I was in the supermarket just buying some little things for when S was coming, I came across something called grytbaser (stew bases) from Kelda. They were on offer because of a short sell-by date, so they were less than half price but still had over a week left of the use-by date. So I bought two; balsamico and roast garlic (a creamy sauce to be served with chicken) and Texas chili (quite self-explanatory, no?).

I decided to ‘listen’ to the back of the jar and pair the sauce with chicken and mushrooms. I then chose to serve it with mashed potatoes, because I really wanted mash and a creamy sauce.


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Ingredients (3 portions)

300g chicken

250g mushrooms

1 jar Kelda Balsamico and Roast Garlic


Fry the chicken until cooked through. Set aside. Fry the mushrooms in some butter until they’re the colour and texture you want them. Re-add the chicken and pour over the sauce. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta. (I did mash the first two days and pasta the third.)


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And let me tell you – it was fantastic! It tasted so good, was quick and easy, and really hit the spot. If I hadn’t put mushrooms in it, I’m sure S would have loved it too.

Until now I was a bit sad that it was so nice though, because even though it’s not overly expensive, I think it could be a bit of an unnecessary cost. But, drumroll, now that I was writing this post up for you, I Googled the sauce to see if I could find the contents – and Arla has the contents and some of the quantities on their website!

Their ingredients read as follows:

250 ml milk

50 ml water

50 ml cream

1.75 tbsp balsamic vinegar

14g chopped onions

1.5 tbsp cornflour

7g roast garlic

Thyme

Vegetable stock

Chicken stock

Salt

Sugar

Black pepper

So all I need to do is to try and figure out how much stock is used and then I could make it myself!

/t

chicken with root vegetables and basil yogurt

When I got back to Sweden, one of the first things I wanted was to join the gym again. As my mum has worked in the industry for over 30 years, I really only had one choice (but also because it’s the largest chain in Sweden and it has the most variation among the classes) but memberships are expensive! So when I got my job and found out I get double the recommended amount in the so-called ‘wellness benefit’ you can get from your employer in Sweden, I was on it in an instance. I signed up on 26th May and have since been to the gym 42 times. That’s an average of 3.8 times per week, and if you subtract the 10 day gap I had when I was on holiday, that changes to 4.4 times per week. Not bad, right? I try to make sure I go at least three times per week, but I never go on the weekends if S is here.

I have to say that their website is really good, and so is the app. They’re easy to use, and it’s usually quite quick and simple to view and book the classes you want to go to. And I’m not saying this because my mum works there – more like in spite of the fact that my mum works there. Anyway. When I signed up I noticed that they have this tab called “Exercise plan” where you could set up a plan based on your wants and needs. I was a little intrigued by this – and quite interested – but I didn’t want to sign up if it meant that you get some personal trainer calling you to talk it all through.

After some Googling I found that this was not the case, so I went ahead and tried it out. I chose that I wanted to ‘get in shape’, have a very stationary job, want to train three times a week, and lose a little bit of weight in the process. As each plan is 8 weeks long, I thought losing a few kilos wouldn’t be too strenuous (or unrealistic). Once I’d added that together with my stats (height, weight, age, gender – the usual) I got to my ‘start page’ for my plan.

On the right is my estimated calorie need, which they’ve put at 1960 kcal per day. That’s quite high, and when I spoke to my mum about it she said that they usually count on an extreme calorie burning intensity in your exercise. (So I’m aiming to have a net intake of between 1300 and 1500 kcal which, depending on the exercise, can amount to a gross calorie intake of between 1300 and 1900 kcal.) Underneath your recommended intake there is a link to ‘recipes that suit me’ where they have a collection of around 10 breakfast recipes, 50 lunch and dinner ones, and 40 snack ones.

On the left is my exercise wants and recommendations. Where I’ve chosen that I want to exercise three times per week my recommendation is two classes and one strength session. It shows a list of the classes I’m booked into this week, as well as offers suggested training programmes for the strength sessions.

On top there’s a weekly summary of how many times you’ve exercised, which looks the same as the one you can see in the ‘My Training’ section which is available without the exercise plan.

Though I think that the recipes are good, I’m a bit disappointed with the rest. There’s no accountability anywhere – you can’t add your daily calorie intake or your weight, and I don’t think it calls you out in any way if you don’t do the recommended number of exercising sessions. All classes are also automatically counted as classes, so you can’t count something like shape or bodypump – which is a series of weighted exercises you’d often do in a weights session in the gym – as a strength session. So my first week on this programme (which also, independently of when you sign up, always starts on a Monday) I did 5 classes but no independent strength training – and technically therefore didn’t meet my goal. But nothing happened.

I know that the gym ultimately wants you to buy hours with their trainers for them to do these things with you, and that maybe I shouldn’t have expected that much to begin with, but I think I’m going to stick to my FitBit which at least rewards me with a ‘well-done-notification’ when I’ve met my goals.

What I did really like though was the recipes. I’ve used three (or four?) of them for smoothies already, and because they’re meant for people who exercise a lot and are developed by personal trainers, they’re quite protein-heavy, which is good. When I cook I’m more often drawn to carb-heavy rather than protein-heavy foods, so getting some variation and seeing that it’s tasty and doesn’t just feel like a bodybuilder’s meal is good for me lol.

And wow do I like this. It’s definitely sharing the crown with the beef stir-fry at the moment. It’s such a simple recipe with earthy flavours, but that basil yogurt really brings it up a notch.


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Ingredients (4 portions)

600-800g chicken fillets (I used 700g)

1kg carrots

500g parsnips

4+2 cloves of garlic

Vegetable oil

‘food yogurt’ (or crème fraîche/natural, Greek or Turkish yogurt)

Basil


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I love carrots but S doesn’t like them so I don’t eat them as often now. But when I saw this recipe I immediately wanted to try it – and even S said it looked good when I sent him a picture!

Now my carrots and parsnips were very nicely cleaned so I didn’t peel them. (Btw, in my supermarket parsnips are sold individually and wrapped in plastic – how annoying is that!) But if you want to, that’s what you should obviously do first. Then cut them into similarly sized batons and put in a tin or on a tray. Douse with 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil (I use rapeseed) and season with salt and pepper. Then throw in four cloves of garlic (I peeled mine) and cook at 225 degrees Celcius for 25-30 minutes (depending on how large they are and how soft you want them).

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the chicken. If you’re like me – begin by cutting off all the white slimey and fatty and tendony bits. The original recipe had the chicken fillets wrapped in bacon, but I’m not a big bacon fan so I skipped that bit. I just cleaned them up and seasoned with salt and pepper. If you do want bacon – wrap each fillet in one or two rashers (depending on the size of the fillets) and secure with a toothpick.

Lower the temperature on the oven to 150 degrees Celsius and cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes. I took the vegetables out for 10 minutes and then put them back in with the chicken for 5, because I didn’t want them much softer.

While the chicken is cooking, peel and finely chop two more cloves of garlic. As for the basil, you can use fresh or frozen – but I wouldn’t recommend dried. I used frozen and I think I actually prefer that. Partly because I’m lazy and partly because I felt like it gave more of a flavour punch. If you do use fresh basil, chop up as much as you like, then add the garlic and basil to the yogurt and stir.

When the chicken is cooked through, serve with the vegetables and the yogurt.

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This dish keeps quite well, but the chicken can go a bit dry when reheating it, so it’s best enjoyed fresh (but does work in the lunch box the day after too).

/t

chicken and new potato traybake

As part of moving back  home and finally having a home of our own – I’m making an effort to eat better. Towards the end in London I was often too tired to cook once I finally got home from work – and not to mention going to the gym. Getting promoted last summer meant often not coming home until after 8pm, and then I was supposed to make something to eat as well as getting the energy up to go to the gym, work out for an hour, come home, and shower? I don’t think so. More often than not I’d end up with something like cheese on toast or cereal, and I think I went to the gym maybe once between October and March.

Before we got married I was quite good – went to the gym at least three times a week and at least made some food plans in advance with S. But when the wedding was over and I didn’t have that wedding-dress-motivator I just lost it. So if S and I didn’t plan what we were going to eat the day before, we were both too tired to go food shopping when we got home in the evening. Hence the toast and cereal.

Having been home for almost four months now (how did it go so fast!) I’ve been pretty good with my food. Almost always bringing a packed lunch for work and cooking enough for leftovers to have both for lunch and dinner. But lately I’ve been starting to slip back a little to not having the evening’s food planned in advance, and where I go to the gym after work on most Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (yes, I know, I’m really trying to be good with that) I again end up not having the energy and inspiration needed to cook something nice.

So here goes my new effort! I’ve made a meal plan for the week, after browsing through BBC Good Food and ICA for inspiration, and am planning on making that a regular habit from now on.

The first meal on my plan is a slightly adapted chicken and new potato traybake. I think the word ‘traybake’ is a bit misleading here though – because it makes me think of all the goodies they make in the traybake episodes of The Great British Bake Off! Though this was a nice enough meal, it was nowhere near as nice as a gooey brownie or a fruity/berry/lemony delight. (Yes, I’m a dessert person!)


Ingredients (4 portions) 

600 g new potatoes

4 chicken thighs

1 lemon

6 cloves of garlic

8 bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

seasoning


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Start by quartering your lemon and, if you want to, gently crushing your garlic (but no need to peel it now). Then throw in the lemon, garlic, potatoes and bay leaves in a big tray. (As you can see mine is a bit too small.) Douse in olive oil and toss around a bit so the potatoes are all covered by oil.

Add the chicken thighs and cook at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for about 1 hour – or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken cooked through. If you’re using chicken with skin, leave the tray in the oven for an extra 15 min to make sure the skin is crisp.

Peel the garlic and mash it up into the meat juices.

Serve the chicken, potatoes, lemon and garlic (you can discard the bay leaves – they’re not very nice to eat) with some salad or maybe a nice yogurt or crème fraîche based dip.


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I got 12 medium-ish sized new potatoes, but if I do this again I’d make it 16. The original recipe calls for 500g potatoes, but I had almost 600g and that didn’t quite feel like enough. It may be because my potatoes were big enough that I only got three per serving, but I don’t think 500g would have been enough.

I also got chicken thigh fillets, because I don’t like thighs with bones in them. However, the largest pack of chicken in my shop only had three fillets in it (though they were very big). I therefore cut them up into smaller pieces, but that was a mistake. The chicken turned out a little dry because it was in smaller pieces, so if I’d cook this again I’d make the effort to get four fillets.

The original recipe also calls for olives, but I don’t like olives so I skipped them. They’d probably go well with the lemon and bay leaf if you do like them though.

All in all I’d give this meal 3 of 5 stars. It’s nice, but not wow. I found it a little bit lacking in flavour despite seasoning with salt and lemon pepper (Google it, it’s really nice), and I don’t think the portion size was anywhere near large enough. The BBC estimates that their recipe equals 323 kcal per portion – mine came to 422 kcal – and that’s not very much for a main meal. If you eat three meals per day and two snacks, your meals (as a woman) should be around 500-600 kcal each. It does make it good for someone doing 5:2 though.

Unless I make some amendments to this recipe I don’t think I’ll make it again. Now I only have to eat three more portions of it this week though!

/t