Lime Poached Chicken

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Here’s a little something I cooked up on Monday (2006-07-23) night for dinner. It’s poached chicken served with rice and steamed veggies, the procedure made a good dinner for two with a pair of breasts left over for making lunch the next day. The prevalent flavours here are lime and coriander, I came up with this when wondering what to do with the large bunch of coriander I was left with after thinning out the pots on the balcony.

For a bit of organisation I’ve split the recipe up into four parts, the poached breasts, sauce, mayonnaise and rice; each stage uses outputs from earlier stages.

Poached Breasts

  • 4 Medium Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Brown Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • Knob Of Ginger (ping-pong ball volume)
  • Two Large Handfuls of Coriander (whole plant)
  • Heaped tsp of Green Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of Chili Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander Seed
  • A Few Grinds of Pepper
  • 1 Chicken Stock Cube
  1. Throw it all in a pot!
  2. More concise: Grate rind off both limes and juice, reserve 1 tbsp of juice and rind of one lemon for later, place the rest in a pot including the lime-halves (best size pot is one large enough for the four chicken breasts to sit comfortable side-by-side). Chop up the coriander and throw it in the pot, reserving about 3 tbsp of leaves for later. Roughly grate the ginger and place it and any other herbs and spices into the pot. Put the chicken into the pot and toss with all the flavourings. Roughly chop up the onion, carrot and garlic (crush it a bit) and throw it in the pot, skin and all!
  3. Fill the pot with water until it is about ½cm higher than the chicken. Bring to the boil and then turn to a low simmer. Simmer until the chicken is done, this typically means less than 15 minutes for medium sized chicken breasts. The typical test is to stab the breast in its fleshiest part, if the juices “run clear” then the chicken wont kill you. If the sizes of your breasts vary you may want to remove the more petite ones first. Some prefer to ensure that their chicken is dead, dead, dead; they simmer it for an hour – I don’t approve, this may be the way to go if you have tough old granny chicken breasts though.
  4. The poached breasts should be placed aside, snug in a smaller container with some of the poaching juice (about 150ml say). They’ll cool a little now, beware of this in warm weather though – you may want to place in a large freezer bag and put the lot into a bath of cold water.
  5. Remove the lime shells from the breast juice (squeezing out any liquid) and place back onto the stove and bring to a boil. Boil down to half volume then turn to a simmer and put the lid back on. Simmer until the carrot chunks are done like your granny does ‘em – bleached of flavour and on the brink of mush.

Lime and Coriander Mayonnaise

  • 1 tbsp of Lime Juice (left over from above)
  • Grated Rind of 1 Lime (left over from above)
  • 2 tbsp of Chopped Coriander Leaves (left over from above)
  • 4 tbsp of Good Mayonnaise (make it yourself if you have the time!)
  1. Place half the lime rind and 1 tsp of the chopped coriander into a small
  2. container.
  3. Put the rest of the lime rind and coriander into a pestle and mortar with the lime juice and grind to a paste then place it also into the small container.
  4. Put the mayonnaise into the container and mix well.
Tip: If the rice sticks to the bottom of your rice cooker like it does in ours then I suggest following this procedure: mix the rice often with a flat edged wooden scraper (be nice to your carcinogenic non-stick surface), as soon as the rice starts to stick turn off the rice cooker and leave rice covered for 15 minutes, it’ll sit and absorb the remaining moisture without turning into a large baked rice cake.

Flavoured Rice

  • 1 Cup of Basmati Rice
  • 1 tbsp of chopped coriander (left over from above)
  1. Pour the liquid from the cooled chicken breasts into your rice cooker and make up the volume to that appropriate for the amount of rice you want to cook (typically 1.5 cups total liquid for 1 cup of basmati rice).
  2. Add the rice (washed if required) and turn on the cooker.

Simple!

The Sauce

  1. Take the reduced and simmered poaching liquid and push through a sieve into a bowl. Resulting liquid should be cloudy and slightly thickened. Place back into the pot, put on the stove and bring back to a simmer (at this point reduce further if you feel it is needed).
  2. Dissolve 1bsp of cornflour into water then stir into the simmering liquid.
  3. Continue to stir rapidly (with a whisk is best) until thickened.
  4. Season to taste and possibly passed through a strainer one final time (in case there are any lumps).

Beware of this sauce, I made the mistake of leaving the lime shells in for too long and it ended up quite bitter. I cut it by adding about half a cup of orange juice and a little honey – even then it was a bit too bitter to use in large amounts. Aside form the bitterness the flavour was excellent.

The Meal

  1. Dish out rice into two shallow bowls.
  2. Slice two chicken breasts into 1cm thick pieces and place onto a 1 tbsp dollop of the mayonnaise on the rice.
  3. Generously dollop with sauce (though I was more sparing with the sauce due to the bitterness mentioned above).
  4. Garnish with a crisscrossing of green mayo.
  5. I recommend serving with some steamed vegetables. I steamed the veges in a strainer in the top of the simmering poaching juice.

Battery Workers

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Reading a story from BBC:

How much higher density? Maybe a third less space, but it also quotes an unnamed firm in the Thames Valley where 1,200 staff have about half the previous average floor space allowed per person.

Suddenly it seemed that using the metaphor of ‘battery hens’ was right on the dollar… I was churning that over trying to work out just how big someone’s office would have had to have been to now be fitting 1,200 people into just half of it? Did they take half the CEO’s office and put a call centre into it?

After re-reading a couple of times I worked out that they actually mean… heh, must be the heat.

Portobello Produce

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Today we went for a trip into London. This involved about 40 minutes of train travelling, from here to Baker Street and then onto Paddington. Paddington is one of the stations close to the company office in Notting Hill (closest station is Notting Hill Gate, but that would involve another train change). In the end the primary purpose of the trip turned out to be a dud, as I couldn’t get into the office thanks to a new security system; score security: 1, Yvan: 0. The secondary purpose was somewhat more successful, Kathlene saw a GP (which wasn’t much more expensive than Sydney for just a prescription re-issue) and we discovered that “The Pill” costs less here than it does in Sydney (not much less mind you) – same brand.

Along the way we discovered two new quests for the day; the first was sushi. There is a sushi “train” in Paddington station, conveniently close to the GP office that Kat choose (coincidence? I think not). I wont say much about this one, the sushi was disappointing – it wasn’t even close to as good as the lowest class of sushi train in Sydney and it cost more then the best one. Poor Kathlene is now resigned to having to wait to gorge herself on sushi on a yearly sushi pilgrimage back to Sydney. Come February next year Sydney’s sushi industry better be prepared as they will face a ravenous beast with a Godzilla like, fury-driven appetite for their fishy delights.

The second quest, also of a culinary nature, was somewhat more successful. We wandered to the street where the riches of ages are stowed to hunt produce, less endowed in the “ages” one hopes. While there we visited the best coffee place in the known England: the Coffee Plant (the owner of this fine coffee establishment believes that the US government blew up the WTO buildings… and wrote a book about it).

Also, while in the area, we visited a nearby Oxfam bookshop and bought a few books:

All for the tidy sum of £9.97. I haven’t looked at the bonsai book yet and the Japanese cooking one is a bit on the simple side (we knew that before we bought it). The French cooking book is well written and contains some interesting recipes, I especially like the way that the recipes all seem to have a story to go with them.

With books in hand we then did a trawl of the produce stalls, there are around three decent length blocks worth of the things – vegetables galore. Sold by a variety of people with a variety of accents – I wonder if some of them have driven across from the continent for the could of days of trading. There is some absolutely excellent stuff available there for very reasonable prices.

Our bag for the day was: four large and excellent Haas avocados (£1), two large and firm aubergines (£1.20) and four sweet and aromatic red peppers (£1.20). All significantly better than the stuff we can get in the local supermarkets and at a combined cost that is lower than the avocados would have cost us anywhere else (for comparison we saw Haas avocados at Tesco today which were almost as good but sold for 80p each!). Ouch! The red peppers were really especially fine, I didn’t pick them out for their looks – I smelt them as I walked past. I’m so used to sniffing the produce in the supermarkets and wondering if things have been substituted with wax versions.

If only it wasn’t a £4.80-each round trip to get in there :( certainly the place to buy some vegies if we happen to be in London for other reasons anyway, but not quite worth it as a motivation in its self (if just one of us went in then the total cost would have been about the same as buying the same stuff from Tesco and thus probably worthwhile as a weekly trip (made borderline by the ~1.5 hours total train travel).

One aubergine and two red peppers were made into an excellent dinner. The remainder has been roasted up for use in this weeks sandwiches (saving significantly on buying roast eggplant and red pepper), the same fate awaits the avocados.

No, I wouldn’t normally use the names “aubergine” and “red pepper” – trying to pick up the local customs and all ;)

BaaBaaEggplant Baa Eggplant

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

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BaaBaa Eggplant – Dinner is served

After picking up some beautiful vegies from the Portobello Road markets I decided to turn some of them into dinner. The nice plump aubergines (eggplants) looked just perfect for a good stuffing, and our herbs have got to the point where they would be of some use. On returning home we wandered out to the shops; discovering that the local M&S has the completely retarded Saturday closing time of 18:00 we continued on to good old Tesco which is open until the rather more sensible hour of 22:00. Initially my intention was to get some pork mince for the stuffing, but on seeing some excellent looking “organic” lamb mince I changed the plan a little. When I cook nothing is ever really laid out neatly in advance – the food just sort of evolves through the cooking process into whatever comes out the other end. By the end of the process these are the ingredients that would have contributed to the final meal:

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Ingredients

  • 400g lean, medium-grind lamb mince
  • 1 large aubergine (eggplant)
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers (capsicum)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • ½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seed
  • 500g tinned chopped tomato
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • (Or 500g of a good plain pasta sauce to replace both of the above)
  • ½ tbsp of honey
  • 100ml of sweet mead (or a girlie-wine, such as verdhello)
  • A light textured natural yogurt
  • Cheese (cheddar/tasty for more flavour or mozzarella)

And the process to go from all of that to dinner:

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Grilled

  1. Put garlic, sage, rosemary, cinnamom and pepper into a mortar and grind to a rough paste. Massage this paste through the lamb mince, cover and put in the fridge.
  2. Slice the aubergine in half lengthwise, cut (angled inwards) a boundary about ½ an inch from the edge then score the internal space. Hollow out the eggplant halves with a spoon leaving a shell about ½ an inch thick. Salt shells and innards and leave to drain in a colander (cut side down for shells). Let them have a good 20 to 30 minutes to drain.
  3. Finely dice the red pepper (roughly 3mm cubes) and the brown onion.
  4. Place the cumin and cardamom seeds into a dry saucepan and toast until aromatic, then put in the chili and coriander powders and toast for a little longer until slightly discoloured. Sprinkle toasted spiced over the chopped red pepper.
  5. Rinse and then pat dry the aubergine shells and innards. Lightly oil shells and place under grill, slightly brown both sides (okay, so you can’t really “brown” the skin – crisp it up a little) while continuing with the following steps. Chop the innards to roughly 5mm cubes.
  6. Place a little oil into the saucepan previously used to toast the spices, heat oil then fry chopped onion until translucent. Take lamb and crumble into the saucepan, add chopped eggplant and continue to fry until lamb browns. Add the mead and honey and keep on heat until most liquid evaporated. Now throw in the chopped aubergine innards and tomato (tinned+paste or pasta sauce). Continue to cook, the consistency should and think and chunky – be careful not to add too much tomato and thus make it too runny.
  7. Take the browned aubergine halves and place cut-side-up into an oven pan (it may help to secure them in position with some lightly rolled aluminium foil. Generously pack the halves with the lamb mixture, heaping as much above the eggplant as seems safe. If, as in my case, you have too much lamb mixture take the second red pepper, halve, clean, put into pan and fill just like the aubergine halves. Still got some leftover? Try to pack it in – else take a spoon and enjoy it.
  8. Lightly coat with natural yogurt and generously sprinkle with grated cheese.
  9. Place into oven preheated to about 200°C and bake until looks good and smells great (cheese on top should have just started to brown).
  10. EAT! We enjoyed this drizzled with natural yogurt and served on a bed of basmati rice and a glass of metheglin.

Half of this recipe was enough for a large dinner for two, with half left in the fridge for dinner some other night (also good cold for lunch).

Sidetracked

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

SVG, CSS and Web Browsers

I’ve been sidetracked on an update I started two weeks ago but still haven’t finished. It involves some photos and along the way updating my CSS/etc knowledge and learning SVG. The capability if web browsers has really come a long way since I last seriously explored “web design”! That was years ago, about four maybe, Firefox and IE7 beta sometime soon and see how it is, I’ve heard some good reports on it as well as some less flattering, and you can never tell by what you read since people are so damn religious about these things.

On IE7 the most interesting item has been a Firefox
dude interview
, where he makes the point that IE7 is just a catch-up and that by the time it is out it’ll probably be behind already. The real test is going to be in ongoing effort to improve standards coverage, will they make the effort? They surely have the ability to do a great job of it (we can only hope that it is without magic IE extensions to the standards), but such things are likely to be subject to ‘business case’ justification, so who knows?

Anyway, my main point of interest in all of this is that SVG is great to play with, I can make images in vim! It’s a dream come true ;)

I would say that we have the makings of a Flash killer here, if only MS would get IE supporting the right standards. Opera has done a very good job with version 9! And Opera doesn’t have the ad-bar anymore, which is great. I hope they’re making enough revenue elsewhere to keep going at it (embedded platforms?). The SVG support has some layering/focus bugs when it comes to DOM manipulation with embedded script, rendering is excellent though. Firefox has good rendering (I think Opera’s SVG rendering looks just a little better) and I haven’t hit any bugs in scripting SVGs in it yet. SVG has all the potential to be just as annoying as Flash!

What have we been up to?

In brief, two weeks ago we went on a nice 3 hour walk down the Grand Union Canal then back up through the countryside, took some photos and made some notes. I’ll have a funky photo widget posted for that soon. It’s a little impractical and unwieldy, but I’m no web designer! More an exercise in exploring what can be done than anything else.

Also went on a five hour walk up the river Chess to Chorleywood Common (map: where we had our afternoon tea) then back into Rickmansworth along the train-line, have some photos for that one too.

Not a lot else, been busy. Also been wasting some free time with Oblivion, when I tried playing it when I bought it (in month 4 of my 6 month tour of duty in the UK) I lost interest after about six hours. This time I seem to have gotten into it a bit more. Can’t say that that is a good thing, given my hate for time-wasting. There are more useful things I could be doing in my free time.

Kat is still job-hunting, she should probably try for less permanent looking positions as the Working Holiday thing is a definite blocker. Contract based positions are more likely, but we can’t work out head or tail of the details regarding tax/NI/etc if contracting in IT while on a WH visa. Meanwhile she’s got some contract work with her former employer back in Sydney at a pretty good rate, so she wont get too rusty :-p