Monday, April 29, 2013

Recent TV Series We Watched

You know that I am a big fan of Ken Follett and when one of his best novels “The Pillars of the Earth” was made into a TV series, I was a bit reluctant to watch it on DVDs. The book is gigantic so I resigned to the fact that the series would not pick up much detail of the book, I have to say that it was done quite well – Ian McShane’s Bishop Bigod, Matthew Macfayden’s Prior Philip and Rufus Sewell’s Tom builder were brilliant. So when its sequel DVDs (TV series) were out – we were quite keen to watch.

The novel “World without End” itself is less powerful than “The Pillars of the Earth”- just like many other sequels but nonetheless a very, very good read. If you have read the book and want to watch the TV series – be prepared to think of the series as a different story altogether so that you can watch through all 8 episodes without too much frustration as the story very much varies from the book. It was based rather “loosely” on Ken Follett's novel - same town, same period but not quite the same story. It is understandable they had to simplify or shorten the story to fit the lengthy novel into 8 or 10 hours of screening time– but to change the story wholesale and make a salad out of parts of the book with many dressings added did not seem quite right to me. It was, in my opinion, rather messy. Veteran actors and actresses like Miranda Richardson, Cynthia Nixon, Ben Chaplin and Peter Firth were, however, fantastic and enhanced this TV series to some degree. Honestly, I was surprised it was made by more or less the same executive producers as its prequel.

Films based on novels or real stories deviated from the originals from time to time – some, however, were made brilliantly or even more interesting than the books themselves, The FrenchLieutenant’s Women for instance. This, unfortunately, cannot be said about World without End – TV Series.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Power Yawning

We humans have our power walking, power talking and so on. Bonnie also does her power thingy – power yawning for instance. This power yawning seems to be deployed when she has been asked to stay still at particular spot for a period of time, say 2 minutes (must be quite a long time in doggy term). And believe you me, you will not appreciate the power of yawn until you put your nose close to her mouth!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Downton Abbey Breakfast – Kedgeree

Barbara’s brother in law went out fishing and got a big marlin (swordfish) so I was kindly given a chunk of smoked marlin. I was inspired by Downton Abbey series where they served Kedgeree for breakfast for the lord and ladies in the first season - so kedgeree it was with the marlin. For us who are not to the manor born – we had it for dinner.

Of course, the recipe below might go somewhat astray from the traditional ones but more or less the same direction. I used smoked marlin instead of haddock, jasmine rice instead of basmati (because I had them on hand on the day) and added some chilli for a kick.

You will need:

 200 grams smoked fish
150 grams prawn meat, chopped
¾ cup long grain rice
2 cups cooking liquid (I used chicken stock and a bit of dry sherry)
2 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat of the knife and chopped
Half onion, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped into chunks
1 Teaspoon curry powder
½ Teaspoon turmeric
¼ Teaspoon ground dried chilli/chilli powder (optional)
Butter and oil to fry
Salt & Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon each chopped spring onion (only the green part) and coriander leaves to garnish
Lemon wedges to garnish

Poach the fish and prawns in simmering chicken stock and dry sherry for about 10 minutes and drain. Reserve the liquid. Flake the fish and set aside, discard the skin.

In the casserole over medium heat, add a bit of oil and a tablespoon of butter. Fry onion and garlic until soft. Add spices and fry further for 2 minutes. Add rice, stir well then add the reserved liquid (you need about 1 ¾ cups, add water to make up to this volume if there is not enough poaching liquid). Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Place the lid on and let it simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir briefly and stand undisturbed with lid on for another 10 minutes.

Fluff up the rice and mix in the flaked fish, eggs and sprinkle with chopped spring onion and coriander. Taste and add more salt and chilli if needed. Serve warm with a round or two of freshly milled black pepper. Imagine having it with the Crawleys and enjoy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What? Me? I’m doing nothing naughty, really!

I don’t know why Pipi likes attacking this rug – not any other rugs but this particular one. She likes nibbling the fringe on both sides and sometimes trying to flip the rug (without success as it’s much heavier than she).

When she was caught in the act like this she would put on her startled face – as if surprised that she was not supposed to kill the rug.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Art of Plating – Cocoro Japanese Restaurant

I was supposed to write a post about this delightful Japanese restaurant a while ago but the photographs had not been processed until recently.

Bob and I went to Cocoro in Ponsonby for our joint birthdays and Valentine’s dinner in late February. Japanese take their food presentation seriously from the high end eateries down to the street food level (some tastes as beautiful as it looks and some not) - to please the eye first and then the taste buds. At Cocoro we picked the degustation menu and all of their dishes tasted as beautiful as they looked.

We started with Miso grilled Wakanui beef mince “Niku Miso’ on a bed of ice berg as shown above. Each dish has its own wow factor with beautiful props and it might look quite small but believe me, after 8 dishes you will leave the restaurant with full tummy (we added on Wagyu dish halfway and struggled with the roasted duck breast as beautiful as it was).

We finished the meal with Betsubara or Soy Sauce Ice-cream with fresh fruit medley and tiny green tea meringues.  It might sound weird (the same way as blue cheese ice cream) but it was delicious. We left the place very happy that evening.

Cocoro classify themselves as a new style Japanese cuisine and they are good at it – modern Japanese food that is. We like this restaurant and will be back for special occasions – as their whimsical style should be saved for such occasions so the magic will not wear off too soon.