Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Best Roast Turkey Ever

Roasting a turkey is very simple. Many people have been persuaded away from the traditional way of roasting a turkey, but I still think this is the best way to do it. I know it is slightly faster to cook the bird with no stuffing in and many people now buy a ready-made stuffing in a box that just requires water being added. I have tried all the ready made stuffing and do not recommend them. Cooking a turkey in this way is an all day event. If possible involve the whole family. If you are cooking for a large group of family and friends, there is a lot of work to do. Kids will love to help peel the potatoes. (Or not.) Continue reading.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Roast Duck with Morello Cherry Sauce

Roasting a duck is no harder than roasting any other bird. In fact, it is easier because one thing a duck does not need is any added fat. Duck is a naturally fatty food, but most of it will come out during cooking, which is great because we will use this excess fat to cook our roast potatoes. (See roast potatoes recipe)

This is a very simple recipe, because we are going to do nothing other than season the bird with salt and pepper, and roast it. This will serve 4. Continue reading.

Poule Au Pot (Chicken in the pot) recipe

It was Henry IV of France’s ambition to create such a wealthy nation that every family in the land would be able to afford this dish every Sunday. Of course, that put a little strain on the chicken population come Sunday, but it’s a nice story.

The original recipe for this calls to use the giblets to make a stock, but there is a tendency nowadays to remove the giblets before the chicken gets to the customer, so You will need some ready made stock instead. I prefer to use a liquid stock rather than bouillon cubes for this recipe. Continue reading.

Monday, 29 October 2007


Ratatouille sounds like a hard dish to cook and I think most people are put off by the fact that it includes eggplant. Eggplant is not difficult to cook either, but it does require some preparation work before you can cook it. I will go through this step by step and you’ll find it’s no more difficult than any other vegetable. Ratatouille makes a wonderful accompaniment to many different meals and if you are vegetarian is a great meal served with fresh bread. Continue reading.

The French Riviera - Antibes

The Market

Antibes is an interesting town for several reasons, not least of which is the old castle overlooking the port. It’s many alleys and narrow streets are crowded in the summer, but offer a varied selection of restaurants, fine wine sellers and of course, the ubiquitous tourist traps. Continue reading.

Coq au vin recipe

Coq au vin means literally, “Cock in wine,” but nowadays it has become less traditional to use an actual cock because it’s far easier to find a chicken than a cock. This is another really easy recipe that just takes a little time to prepare. If you wish to make a less expensive version, just use chicken pieces (legs and thighs) rather than a whole chicken. I prefer to use a whole chicken though. This takes very little time, perhaps 1 ½ hours including preparation time. This is another great smelling dish that fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma whilst cooking. If you have a friendly butcher, ask him to cut a chicken into 6 pieces for you. Even though the wine is going to be used for cooking, it is worth buying a reasonable bottle. Continue reading.

Easy Irish Stew with Dumplings

I am not so sure about this being a genuine Irish recipe, but that’s the name, so I’ll stick with it. This is a very tasty, easy recipe, because basically you just throw everything into a casserole dish and leave to cook. I like to add dumplings and for me, that’s what makes this the perfect meal. It’s a very inexpensive meal and the only thing that takes any real time is a small amount of preparation and a little time making the dumplings. There are lots of ways to make dumplings, but if you follow this recipe, you will have light, fluffy dumplings that complement this stew perfectly. An interesting variety is to add parsley to the dumplings. But only add it if you can find fresh parsley – dried will not do, it’s too strong. Continue reading.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Braised Meatballs with peppers and tomatoes

Meatballs are a truly economical way of eating meat, but many people are put off by the amount of work they think needs to go into them. But the reality is that meatballs are easy – If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. I like to make them by hand, and they are really easy. I like to mix pork sausage and ground beef, but if you prefer, you can use Italian sausage and ground pork or veal or mix it up however you like. For this recipe I will recommend ground beef and pork sausage because it gives the most authentic flavors. Use a good quality sausage because we are going to add breadcrumbs so we don’t want a sausage that has already been diluted. Continue reading.

Friday, 26 October 2007

The World's Most Unusual Properties for Sale

This is a collection of weird and unusual properties currently for sale around the world.

Dracula’s castle, Transylvania is on the market for around $80 million. Seems like a bargain to us, as long as there are no incumbent tenants.

Vatu Vara island is claimed to be the most expensive freehold island in the world. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. It is often nicknamed Hat Island because of its unusual shape — the top of its peak is flat because it was once at sea level. It is part of the Lau group of islands and its peak dominates the surrounding skyline. It is said to be one of the last four freehold islands to come on to the market in Fiji. Continue reading.

American style Pancakes Cooking made easy

Pancakes. Every one loves pancakes and most people buy a ready-made mix. Why not try making your own? They taste far better and are really easy to make. And, you know exactly what went into them. No preservatives, no artificial flavors. Much better. This recipe takes about 15 minutes preparation, mostly waiting for the buttermilk to be ready. That’s right, this is a twofer, you will make your own buttermilk too. Buttermilk is not widely available in Europe, so I had to work out how to make my own, and it tastes much better than the store bought. Try it and see. Continue reading.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Risotto alla Milanese

For this recipe, it is important to use Italian rice; Arborio is probably the most well known, but Carnaroli or Vialone Nano are good too. This is a very simple recipe but it does need a lot of stirring, particularly towards the end of the cooking time as the rice absorbs the liquids. This can be served as a main dish, but also makes a great accompaniment to Ossobuco. If you have a paella dish, that’s the best way of cooking this dish, if not, a large heavy bottomed frying pan will work just fine.

There are many variations of this recipe, but this is a very simple version. If you can find veal stock, that would be best but beef or chicken stock works well too. Most people spoil this recipe by adding the cheese too early. I prefer to add the cheese right within the last few minutes of cooking. Continue reading.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Short Sale alternative to Foreclosure

When people talk real estate these days, there’s a whole bunch of ominous terms being bandied about. With some northern US states hit so hard by the housing downturn that over 30% of their houses are empty, and south Florida leading the state , if not the country in foreclosures, the increase in anxiety is to be expected. But homeowners need not panic, there are alternatives to foreclosure.

Getting in over your head financially doesn’t have to mean losing your home investment. You should always try to work things out with your bank first. Contact them as soon as you’re having trouble making your payments. Banks don’t like foreclosures and you may be able to make a deal that will make your payments bearable and allow you to keep your home. There are also some programs though HUD that can help you stay put until the market balances out.

Once you’ve exhausted your options, you may want to try and negotiate a short sale. read the rest.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Ossobucu recipe

This is a very rich dish and famous world wide. When you buy the veal, try to get the pieces around 2 inches thick. There are very few Italian casseroles and this one is one of the few instances where I like to mix white wine rather than red with tomatoes. Preparation time is very short although it does need to be cooked for about 1 ½ hours, so it needs to be started well ahead of time. Read the rest.

Essential cooking tools

There are dozens, if not hundreds, or possibly even thousands of gadgets for sale to use in the kitchen. My personal opinion is that most of them are going to spend much of their lives at the bottom of a drawer, or the back of a cupboard, with a few exceptions.

There was a time when I would buy all the latest gadgets based on the sales techniques. They will make your life “easier” “improve the quality of your cooking” or “make you a better person.”

As you may have noticed, if you have read any of my other cooking articles, I now use very few pieces of equipment. I have few basic utensils that are indispensable, but the rest of the gadgets and gizmos are just not worth the money. These are my indispensable tools: Read the rest.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Feng Shui your home sold are probably wondering what Feng Shui has to do with selling your home! Well, Feng Shui is the 3,000-year-old ancient art of creating peace and harmony within your home. A balanced environment supports your ability to prosper by improving your well-being for greater happiness. When used accurately it can assist you in your home selling journey to a successful end. Feng Shui is a tool at your disposal to invoke positive, impulse buying emotions within potential buyers. To get your home sold swiftly it is imperative that your home immediately provoke a connection with any potential buyers that enter. That connection lends to potential buyers ability to envision themselves living within your home. Peace and harmony are two such feelings that drive buyers to write and make offers. Let’s face it; if they are not feeling it, they are not buying it!
To create peace and harmony within your home you must consider the impact of your home’s color choices and furniture placement. Continue reading.

Normandy Pork with Cream and Apples recip

This is a wonderfully rich dish I like to serve in the Autumn. It’s not quite a winter dish, nor a summer one, so Autumn feels right. Autumn is a sadly neglected time of year for recipes. There are loads of “summer salads” and “winter warmers” but I feel Autumn gets left out, so here’s a recipe for Autumn. The combination of garlic, onion, apples and cream is unbeatable.

This is best cooked in a heavy skillet with a lid, but if you don’t have a lid for your skillet, a casserole dish is good also. So, if you do not have a lid, the oven will be used as well as the stove top. This is definitely a French recipe. This will serve 4 people. Continue reading.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Boat Drinks

“Gentlemen, we have boat drinks.” The classic toast at the end of the film “Things to do in Denver when you’re dead.” Of course all the characters are dead, but finally they are realizing their dream. Sharing boat drinks with friends on the deck of an expensive boat at sea. Jimmy Buffet had a few words to say about boat drinks as well, “Boat drinks! The Boys in the band ordered boat drinks!” and “Waitress I need two more boat drinks. Then I’m headin’ south ‘fore my dream shrinks.” These are lyrics from the song of the name boat drinks. Read the rest.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Best roast potatoes

My favorite potato recipe.

Potatoes are an important source of vitamin C, higher in protein than most other vegetables and, cooked with their skins, also a good source of fiber.

It always amazes me that potatoes in the grocery store are displayed in bright light, washed and prepackaged in see-through bags. This is, of course, a ruse by the grocery stores to get you to throw away more potatoes and therefore buy more. Here is my reasoning:

Washing potatoes in warm water causes them to begin to rot. How many times have you taken a bag of potatoes home and had to throw half of them away a week later? And why wash them anyway? Potatoes grow under ground – in the dirt – why on earth (sic) should anyone want a washed potato? The answer is because Kroger or Sainsbury’s are trying to convince you that dirt on a potato is bad – therefore they wash them – therefore they rot quickly – therefore they get thrown away – therefore you buy more. Simple. Read the rest.

Home made Pizza Napoletana

Home made Pizza beats a delivery Pizza any day of the week. It’s more work but definitely worth the effort. Most delivery Pizza companies, despite their advertising campaigns, put a load of garbage on their Pizza. What Papa John says is true. Better ingredients equals better Pizza. They just don’t do it. So, here is a very simple Pizza recipe to make at home. It will take more time than picking up the phone, but, in my opinion, it’s worth it. And, much, much cheaper. On top of that, you know the ingredients going onto it are better, chosen by you. And it has that magic ingredient-YOU. You know it wasn’t thrown together by some spotty teenager who couldn’t care less. You did it yourself and put a little love into it. Try it and see. Continue reading.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

I love potatoes, it’s no secret. Sautéed potatoes are nice and simple to do. This recipe calls for onions, but if you prefer them plain, just leave out the onion. This is a really easy recipe, but to get the potatoes as crisp as possible, I always use two frying pans so that none of them overlap with each other and are always in contact with the pan. I know it’s a pain, but it’s worth it in the end. And don’t listen to people who tell you you can bake these – it’s just not the same.

You can sauté in any oil, but for the best, cleanest tasting result I prefer to use olive oil. It is not vital to use the best quality, but if you can afford the good stuff, it’s also worth it. Credit for this one has to go to France. This will make two large or four small servings. Read the rest.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Easy Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros is a Mexican dish, but has been adopted by the USA and there are probably more recipes and ways of making this dish than almost any other recipe. My personal preference is a very simple version. As far as I am concerned, way too many chefs mess this dish up with complicated additions. I much prefer to make a basic version, using fresh ingredients where possible. Fresh tomatoes are best, but canned will do if you can’t find good tomatoes. Continue reading.

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Cost of Buying Property in Spain

The following are the costs you should include on top of the purchase price when buying property in Spain.

Lawyers/Solicitor’s Fee:
Although it is not compulsory to engage a solicitor, if you are not familiar with the procedure you can appoint your own solicitor. It is important to seek professional advice from a local solicitor (Abogado). Their standard fee for the purchase of a property is 1% of the purchase price plus VAT. Using a non-local solicitor will be more expensive. The Spanish legal system is very different from other European countries and, to avoid misunderstandings, disappointments and possible fraud, it is essential to seek expert professional advice from the beginning.
Notary Fee:
These are collected by the Notary after preparing the deed and presiding over it’s signing. This fee is fixed by law, on a set scale according to the property value, but is not usually more then 1% of the purchase price including VAT.

Please note all professional fees including the notary’s and land registry’s charges are subject to 16% VAT. Read the rest.

Mild Chicken Curry

Indian food does not have to be difficult to cook. Whilst this is not a traditional Indian meal, the basic ingredients, ginger, turmeric and curry powder lend an authentic taste to the dish.

This is definitely one o the easiest dishes to cook. With a little prep time and a few spices, you can create and unusual, exotic dish in very little time. The great thing about this dish is the wonderful aromas that fill the kitchen during cooking. Just close your eyes and you can imagine you are in India. The chicken needs to marinade for a few hours before cooking, so preparation needs to be done well before the meal is to be served. If time is an issue, you can marinade the chicken overnight, but a minimum of three hours. Continue reading.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

If you feel the need for an impressive, albeit expensive meal, perhaps to impress someone, or just plain indulge yourself for once, this recipe has to be top of my list. The English like to claim this recipe as their own, but the French also have a claim, calling it, “Boeuf en croute.” Either way, I like to think of this as the first “fusion” recipe, because I can see how the two culinary cultures combined for this. So, I am giving equal credit to England and France.

Some people have trouble making pastry, so I am going to let that slide for once. If you don’t enjoy making pastry, go ahead and buy some ready-made. That’s something you will rarely hear from me, but I totally understand because pastry making needs a large flat surface to work on and many kitchens just don’t have enough room, mine included. Just make certain it’s flaky pastry.

Read the rest.

Say it aint so ! Cubicles are taking over the world.

October 9th, 2007 · 1 Comment content with working in Cubicles, Sleeping in cubicles, and eating in Cubicles, the Japanese are apparently getting their entertainment in them too. I came across a reference to “Manga Cafes,” and wondered what they were, only to discover that A manga café or a manga kissa is a kind of cafe in Japan where people can read manga cartoon comics. IN CUBICLES. People pay for the time they stay in the café. Most manga cafés also offer internet access like internet cafés and vice versa, making the two terms mostly interchangeable in Japan. For an hour stay, the cost is generally about 400 yen, with most places requiring customers to pay this as a minimum even if leaving earlier. Some manga cafés offer a service where one can rest for the night and even have a shower if need be. Diane has some interesting information about not just the cafes, but all things iconic here.