Archive | January 2013

Tomato Soup Gold

When I was still a tiny Tot and barely able to walk, so my mother used to tell me and her story was confirmed by my doting paternal Grandfather, I, out of the blue, developed this irritating habit of closing my eyes firmly shut, swinging my arms (flapping ungainly most likely) and “dancing” around our living room bumping into furniture, knocking down things. When my mother slightly concerned tried to stop me for fear that I may hurt myself or ‘hurt’ some of our precious items in the room, all she ended up with was a little daughter who brutally was forced to exit her imaginary world of ‘make believe’ and come back into the grown-up world with a bump – into reality!

Ever since my mother and some of our friends took me to see Tchaikovsky’s wonderful ballet “The Nutcracker” around Christmas time, this little girl here had only one giant wish, she wanted Fairy Godmother to come to our house and turn her into a Ballerina by the sheer wave of her magic stick. But she did not want a place in the Corps de Ballet, oh no, she wanted only the top job – Prima Ballerina. But in time she had to learn the hard fact that this job was not going to be hers – ever!

But my love for classical music, opera and the ballet stayed with me all through my life.

Years and years later in ‘my previous life’, when back in London on 2 months leave; I was introduced to ‘Glyndebourne’ by some dear dear friends of ours. To be frank, up to then I had no knowledge of this yet another wonderful British Institution. Glyndebourne is a country house, thought to be about six hundred years old, and located near Lewes in East Sussex, England.  Many Glyndebourne attendees come from London by train and wearing evening dress. Glyndebourne is regarded as part of the London/English summer season. Performances start in the afternoon, enabling Londoners to leave town after lunch, and finish in time for them to catch the last train back. A long interval allows opera-goers the opportunity to have their meal on the extensive lawns or in one of the restaurants – but then, and maybe even today, most opted for “picnic on the lawn”. We went by car from Kent where we stayed with Neil and Mary for a few days. The car was laden with an array of splendid picnic items and enough delicious food and drinks for an army – or so it seemed to me at the time.

The Lawns at Glyndeboiurne

To this day I will never forget Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” and even now, if I close my eyes I can transport myself back in time and to that magical day. We were blessed with one of those rare beautiful English summers’ days – warm enough to sit out on the lawns during the extra long interval in front of this beautiful Country House and yet cool enough as not to feel uncomfortable in one’s evening dress attire in the middle of the day.

The Organ Room at Glyndebourne

One other fond memory I have of this particular day – Mary’s soup! Not just any old soup oh no, this was her secret family recipe which she consistently had refused to share with anybody else, until I came into her life. And now, decades later, I like to share it with you, dear friends – another little treasure from my memory box!

This is such a quick and easy recipe which you can make for any surprise visit of family or friends, as long as you always have a few basics in your store cupboard. While your visitors enjoy their drinks you whisk this up in your kitchen in no time. But to bring out the mixture of flavour this soup should preferably be served very chilled.

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Mary’s Tomato Soup Gold

1 big tin of peeled tomatoes, juice and all (or fresh ones with skin removed)

1 large Onion

5-10 peeled garlic cloves

Some (not too many, or colour of coup will change towards green) parsley leafs

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of black pepper

Tomato Soup

Now put all the above into your mixer and pulse until it is liquid.

Add 3 (or more or less depending on your own taste) large spoons of mayonnaise, and blend it into your tomato mixture.

Now add 2 tsp of curry powder (or more or less) to this and blend in well.

Transfer to a large pretty (glass looks nice) bowl and add 1 tsp (or more or less) of hot Tabasco sauce, mix very well (this is actually the “little secret” people never guess.)  This soup is supposed to have “a kick!” And just before serving this truly delicious soup plop some ice cubes, in which you have previously frozen some parsley leaves, into the soup.

Serve with some extra garlicky toasted bread cubes on the side.

This soup is actually quite filling, so watch out, if you want to serve this as a first course at a summer’s lunch party.

And if you happen to like this, do say a quiet “thank you” to my late friend Mary.

Carina

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Photos: Glyndebourne courtesy of Wikipedia

Soup by ManningtreeArchive

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Thai mild yellow curry in a Pineapple Boat

Although fresh Pineapples are available here more or less all year round, I tend to make use of this delicious fruit mainly freshly cut and eaten either after a meal or as a little snack, but not so much in cooking, which is a shame really.

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So when on my recent trip to Bangkok I visited the well-known AMARI Atrium Hotel on Petchburi Road I got engrossed in a serious discussion with their excellent Executive Sous Chef Chumnong Kehathong about the versatility of pineapples in cooking in general and in Thai cooking in particular.

Since I could not make up my mind that day what to have for my lunch he suggested making this delicious dish here not only for me to try but also for all of you who do read my Blog and might like to prepare this in your own kitchen.

It is so easy and quick to prepare and very versatile. On that day he made it with tender chicken breast pieces. But since I am home again I already had it prepared with wonderful big fat fresh prawns, since Jo does not eat anything which flies.

Also thinly sliced pork goes very well with this preparation – so in fact it is entirely up to you and your taste buds on that day what you actually use. I like the fact that I have those various options and needless to say, I do like all three of them very much.

I did not have any rice or roti with this dish, but this of course is always an option, in which case, I think, the “pineapple boat” can be shared between two people.

So Chef Chumnong greets you all with a smile and “Sawasdee krap” and hopes, like I do, that you enjoy his dish.

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Thai mild yellow Curry

300 gram chicken breast

3 Tbsp yellow curry paste

3 cups of creamy coconut milk

1 cup of chicken stock

30 gram Onion

30 gram Potatoe (boiled and cubed)

30 gram of pineapple

1 piece of red chilly

½ Tbsp palm sugar

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 cup vegetable oil

Preparation:

Cut chicken breast into nice even strips or small cubes.

Take wok, heat on low heat and add oil with curry paste and mix well.

Then add chicken and cook, stirring all the time, until 80% cooked.

Now add coconut milk, chicken stock, onion, potato, pineapple, chilly, palm sugar and fish sauce and bring to boil and cook until chicken is finally cooked.

Now either serve with rice (it’s up to you and your individual taste buds which rice you prefer) or in a “boat”.

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For this cut off carefully lengthwise a slice of the pineapple and scoop out the flesh without damaging the outer shell, and use as stated in recipe. When everything is cooked, re-fill the “boat” and serve with ‘arjat’ which is very thinly sliced cucumber and shallots mixed with some pineapple juice and a little white vinegar (as per your taste). Delicious! 

Carina

(Photos: Manningtree Archive)

FAREWELL TO – 2012

After a most enjoyable, although sometimes hectic one month in Bangkok, we have now returned home where reality hit us with a vengeance.

The house was covered in more dust than I would have liked, domestic chores like paying bill, re-stocking the fridge/freezer and the larder, keeping routine doctor’s appointments etc. took a little while to deal with despite jet lag and a sore throat – but in the end we got slowly back to our usual routine and I was at last able to greet my “old friend” – my computer – and felt somewhat ready to enter the blogging world again with my first post of 2013.

But here now is my dilemma – I really do not know where to start, truly!

So much was happening whilst we were in Bangkok and in fact much had to be temporarily shelved for another time.

Because although Thailand is not a Christian country, as we all know, our seasonal celebrations like Christmas and New Year for instance are nevertheless being celebrated with great joy and vigor. It is also the time of year for weddings (and in some instances ‘the bigger – the better’).

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In fact, the ‘City of Lights’, as Bangkok is known, has lived up to its reputation and presented itself once again in all its glory.

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The colour scheme for Christmas 2012 was a splendid combination of (cold) silver and a (striking) warm blue. All the Malls, may they be huge, big or even small were covered in tens-of-thousands of little fairy lights. It also seemed like the Malls and the major hotels were having a sort of competition going on showing whose Christmas tree was bigger and better – a show clearly enjoyed by the many tourists who flew in from all over the world to celebrate Christmas and the New Year  in ‘the land of smiles’ – Thailand.

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It was a sight to be seen and appealed to the child in me (which somehow always has refused to grow up completely) and I honestly admit to you here that I still go all gooy, ooooh and aaaah when I see anything connected with Christmas.

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I stand in front of this really wonderful Crib inside the Assumption Cathedral and still look in wonder at the re-enactment of the birth of Baby Jesus.

I am the one who enjoys singing all the wonderful old and sometimes new Christmas Carols with the Choir and the congregation to my heart’s contend but who is totally incapable of singing “Silent Night…..” (which of course I love to sing in my native language – German) without starting to sob more or less silently, with small rivers of tears wetting my face. Embarrassing? You may say so– but I simply cannot help it. So I go on making a fool of myself every year in some Church somewhere around the world.  (Sigh!!!)

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I am the one, who simply has to buy yet another additional item for our tree back home, despite the fact that I could open my own shop by now. But we have been doing this now for decades and obviously we are not going to stop this habit and yes, I actually can remember where each item came from. For example, look at this cute little golden Angel – this is our addition for 2012 and was bought at the ‘Jim Thompson Shop’ at Central World (and how I now wish I had bought two of them).

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So, in order to now close this Christmas 2012 chapter in my Bangkok book I leave you finally with a short imaginary sleigh ride through the big hotels, the Malls and the streets of Bangkok to show you some of the trees and decorations which greeted us all over the city and who send some of their glittering sparkles on my behalf out to you as well to wherever you have been celebrating Christmas 2012.

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So dear friends, do tell me if you care – what is your highly charged emotional moment where you cannot help making a “fool of yourself”? Carina.

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(Photos: Manningtreearchive)