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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Chinese Crispy Chilli Beef

This is most definitely going to become one of your favourite Homemade Take-a-way/Restaurant dishes.

For more years than I can remember I've not only ordered this in Chinese Restaurants, but have been making this recipe at home too.

I have been wanting to share this with you all since this blog was launched but there has been a major problem causing the delay.

As good as this Chinese Crispy Chilli Beef may be, it appears to be camera shy!!!!!  It's true, I just cannot obtain a good enough photo.

As a firm believer that recipes should always be accompanied by a photograph I have been unable to deliver this one to you, for now at least.

Well enough's enough, Heaven is waiting and won't delay for a photograph so I've taken the plunge and decided to share one of my favourite all time Chinese Dishes regardless.

Now if you too are familiar with this dish, you then of course need no reminder just how delicious it looks.

Forget "Come Dine with Me" today I say "Come Feast with me".

Fancy a bit of a feast?  Serve Chinese Crispy Chilli Beef with some other Chinese dishes (recipes here) too and feel like you've just created your very own Chinese Reataurant Buffet.


Chinese Crispy Chilli Beef Serves 2-3 as a main meal or more when sharing several dishes

Approx 250g beef fillet (or cut of your choice)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoon corn flour
2 teaspoon 5 spice powder
Oil for deep frying

For the sauce:-

1 Carrot, peeled and cut into fine batons (imagine shredded)
A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed & minced
1" piece of ginger, grated
2 Red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (leave seeds in if brave)
4 tablespoons Caster sugar
3 tablespoons Rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Light soy sauce
Corn flour paste (1 tablespoon corn flour, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water)

Cut the beef into very thin long strips and dust with a little cornflour,  shake off excess.

Make up the batter by placing corn flour in a medium bowl with the salt and five spice powder, make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs. Mix well to form a smooth, lump free batter than mix in the beef strips and stir well to coat beef.

Get your oil nice and hot to 190 whilst preparing ingredients for sauce.

Using tongs, pick up strips of the beef from the bowl and drop individually into the hot oil, cook in batches for approx 4-5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm whilst making the sauce.

In a wok or saute pan heat 1 tbs of vegetable (or groundnut) oil. Add carrot and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Stir fry again for a couple of minutes and add the rest of the ingredients.Once the sauce is quite thick, quickly add the beef and stir well to coat in the sauce. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Once the beef is cooked you can store in refrigerator for 2 days, or freeze. Simply stir fry (defrosted if frozen) beef in a wok for 30 seconds or until re-crisp and heated through.  Set aside and keep warm whilst preparing the sauce.  Once sauce ready,   add beef back and stir well.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Dying to Eat!

In a recent post I shared the recipe for Thai Squid Salad (yam pla meuk).  As mentioned this is one of those quick, simple and easy recipes.  Due to progressive health failure, such recipes have become essential for me now.

I also shared with you how amazing Mr. Grumps (my husband) is too. Since my original diagnosis with Cancer in January 2010 he has progressed from my best friend and husband to carer and of late, chief cook and bottle washer too.  All this whilst working when possible so as to provide some income.  He deserves a medal.

2011 1st outing after 3 further ops

2014 a few weeks after terminal diagnosis

The original purpose and reasons behind launching this blog have now turned around.  At that time, despite having already been ill, I wanted to simply log my cooking and recipes.  Now though, the recipes may be mine, but Mr. Grumps has become the cook.

Thereby, turning this little space on the Web into a legacy.  The idea being that he can easily find all his favourite recipes in one easy place.

Mr. Grumps making Curry

Since the Cancer was confirmed to be terminal we have had to make a lot of plans and changes in our lives.  Mr. Grumps now becoming the cook is just a drop in the ocean.  Truth be known he has always been a superb cook, just didn’t do it very often.

We’ve had to sort out finances too (amongst other things) which seems an endless task but it’s getting there.

A friend recently asked me what I think is best.  A sudden death where you have no warning? Or, a terminal illness where you have some idea of the time you have left?

How do you honestly answer that?  Like everything in life, there are pros and cons attached to each question/answer.  However, being terminally ill does give you the opportunity to put your affairs in order.

“Life comes with only one guarantee
 You are born – you will die”

I tell myself this everyday and it’s what I’ve told all my family and friends.  I’ve also told them all “I don’t want sympathy or pity; I just want to be treated like normal”.

They have all taken this on board and do just that.  Disappointingly though, there are two people who have been close friends of ours for many years and actually won’t speak to us since they heard the news!  Can you believe that?

Despite them, my family and friends are a blessing; they are the most amazing part of my life.  My husband, Mr. Grumps, is the most special person one could ever meet and my Mother-in-law too for that matter.  They have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  Thank you, you don’t need reminding just how much I love you.

2014 Mum-in-Law enticing Beaux into the pool

2014 Mum-in-Law enjoying a night out

This is not “good bye”, just an opportunity to record my love for you all.

I still have some fight left and fight I will, TTFN.

Bibs, xx

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Thai Squid Salad (Yam Pla Meuk)

Summer's end may be imminent but Salads are great throughout the year,  this Thai Squid Salad (Yam Pla Meuk) is a winner anytime.  An amazing starter, snack or light lunch.  Quick and easy to make, you love to hear that don't you?

Quick and easy is for me these days.  Being terminally ill I can no longer cook like I used to.  Dishes I can prepare in stages over a period of time are just what I need now.  Not all dishes need constant attention from start to finish and this is one of them, lucky me.

Mr.Grumps has been amazing though.  In every way possible from looking after me to cooking and cleaning.  I'll write a post about this amazing man soon so stay tuned.

For now though, fancy Thai Squid Salad?

Thai Squid Salad (Yam Pla Meuk)  Serves 1-2


5-10 Baby squids, cleaned
3 small shallots (finely chopped)
1 stalk of lemongrass (very finely chopped (or 1 tsp minced lemongrass from a jar)
2 large kaffir lime leaves (central vein removed and sliced finely
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves.


1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon sugar
½ - 1 tablespoon fish sauce (to taste)
2-3 bird’s eye chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)

First prepare the squid and set aside.

Prepare the sauce by combing all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  Taste the sauce and adjust if necessary.

Blanch the squid in boiling water until they are opaque.

Drain the squid; add to the sauce together with the remaining salad ingredients.

Give the salad a stir and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from - With a Glass  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Chicken Masala Curry

This Chicken Masala Curry may not be exactly what you might expect with a BIR Curry, it's better.  No previously made base curry sauce here.  It's cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients and is one of the best Curries we've had in a long time.  Plus it's gets better and better each day.  Make a few batches of this in advance if you want, it freezes well to.  What more could you want?

But you'll have to try it for yourself to find out just how good it is.

Curries, whichever Country they originate from, are loved in this house.  Whether it's just the two of us or we have guests, we just love em, how about you?

This is a Masala Chicken Curry due to the spice mixture used.  I always roast and grind my own spices, then store in small quantities in little individual spice jars.  That way, there is always a fresh supply on hand.

Ready for the most amazing home cooked Curry?  Then simply follow the recipe below.

Chicken Masala Curry (Serves 2-3)

* You can add more, but you can’t take away!!

200g Chicken Breast (chopped into chunks)
2 tablespoon Oil
1 x Onion (finely hopped)
2 x small Green Chilli (seeds removed and finely chopped)
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
2 x Roma Tomato, or 1 x large tom (skin/s removed and chopped)
3 tablespoon Natural Yoghurt
1 x Bay leaf
¼ teaspoon hot Red Chili Powder (or more depending how hot yours is *)
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
1 teaspoon Tandoori Paste (homemade or store bought)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste *
250ml Chicken stock
125ml approx, Water (to adjust consistency of gravy to your requirements if necessary)
2 tablespoon chopped Cilantro (optional to garnish)

¼  teaspoon Red Chili Powder
½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
½ teaspoon Salt

* You can add more, but you can’t take away!!

Put all marinade ingredients into a bowl, mix well to combine.  Add  Chicken pieces, stir well to coat all the chicken pieces.  Put to one side and marinade minimum 30 minutes (if time allows, marinade in fridge overnight).

Heat oil in a heavy pan (wok or Karahi) add onion and fry for 1 minute, add ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chili, mix well and continue frying until onion becomes transparent.

Add all the spice powders, tandoori paste and Bay leaf, stir well and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Now add tomato, yoghurt and salt/pepper, stir and cook until tomato becomes tender and oil comes to top.

Add marinated chicken and give good stir, cook for 5-7 minutes on a medium low heat.  Add the Chicken stock and cook until chicken becomes tender and cooked, stir in intervals.  If required add more some/all of the water.

Taste and adjust salt/spices if required.  Remove/discard bay leaf and Serve immediately with rice/side dishes of your choice.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sticky Whiskey BBQ Ribs

Does anybody out there not like Ribs?  Seriously, everybody I know loves them in one form or other.  Plus it seems, the stickier and messier, the better!

These ribs are just so incredibly addictive you will possibly NOT want to share them. Actually that's a damn good idea.  There's always someone that eats too quickly, thereby tucking into more than their fair share. In a crowd there's the typical row over whose had the most and then arguments over who can take the last one.

Share, don't share, it's your choice.  But may I suggest making extra batches if you do intend to share.  If, and it's a big IF, there are any leftover they freeze well for another day, bonus.  Could they even tempt vegetarians to convert?

Tuck into these Sticky Ribs and you'll soon realise it's the only recipe for ribs you may need.  You'll have to try them for me to prove it to you though.

You can thank me later.  Enjoy

PS Bibs essential (excuse the pun!).

Ready to tuck into Sticky Whiskey BBQ Ribs?

Sticky Whiskey BBQ Ribs Recipe (Serves 3-4)

Ribs and Spice Mix:-

2 racks pork ribs
1½ teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Whiskey BBQ Sauce:-

4 tablespoons of your favourite whiskey
80ml Tomato Sauce (Ketchup)
2 tablespoons Brown Sauce (i.e Daddies)
6 tablespoons Molasses
2-3 teaspoons Liquid Smoke


Preheat oven to 150c (130 fan)

Separate ribs and place them (in a single layer) into a double foil lined roasting dish.

Place all spice mix ingredients into a small bowl and mix well.

Sprinkle half of the spice mixture all over the ribs.  Turn ribs and sprinkle over remainder of mix.  Give all ribs a good massage to work in the spices and lay out in a single layer again.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the ribs and place into oven.  Roast  for 2 hours or until tender.  Checking them and turning occasionally, adding a little more water if becoming dry.

Meanwhile make the Whiskey BBQ Sauce.  Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine.  Set aside for later.

Once ribs are tender, remove from oven and Pour approximately 6-8 tablespoons of the BBQ sauce all over ribs.  Turn and mix well to coat all ribs evenly with the sauce.

Place back into oven uncovered for 10 minutes.  Remove and toss again for 10 minutes.  Remove, toss again and cover for a further 10 minutes or until very sticky, but not dry.

Serve immediately with side dishes of your choice.

NOTE: - Once cooked, ribs can be cooled and reheated in microwave for 1 minute.  Or, can be frozen for another day.  Defrost thoroughly before reheating.

Boil remaining BBQ in a small pan, reduce and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave to cool.  Serve as a dipping sauce with other dishes.

Sauce will keep in a suitable container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Thai basil chicken - pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่)

This Thai basil chicken recipe - pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่) is a true classic. It's one of the most popular Thai street food dishes. The chicken is stir fried with Thai holy basil, and traditionally served on top of rice with a crispy fried egg on the side!

No fried eggs for me thanks.  I’m English and what do fried eggs mean to us Brits?  Yup, breakfast, so no further explanation required.

Thai basil chicken is a dish I've been wanting to make at home for so long.  What's stopping you? I'm hearing right now.  Well, quite simply, the Basil!

Living in Spain is amazing but, one problem for ex-pat cooks is sourcing ingredients. Particularly for Asian dishes.  Made almost impossible when fresh, perishable foods are essential.

I was getting so fed up not being able to get my fix of Thai basil chicken I sent a message to our local Garden Centre for one last ditch attempt.  Because the owner is English and occasionally stocks plants not normally found in Spain, I assumed there may be a minimal chance it may be stocked.

Without much hope, I was elated to receive a reply confirming stocks of Thai Basil.  I felt like I had won the Lottery and sent Mr. Grumps to immediately purchase a plant.

It's doing well in our garden too and gives a regular supply of fresh leaves, how happy am I?

You may think this dish is going to be a very spicy dish due to the amount of garlic and chillies required.  Trust me when I say it's perfect so please don't adjust the recipe, you will regret it if you do.  Will you try it and come back to tell me you love it too?

Thai basil chicken recipe (pad kra pao gai - ผัดกระเพราไก่)
Makes 1 large or 2 smaller potions

1 chicken breast (or any other cut of boneless chicken, about 200 grams)
5 cloves of garlic
4 Thai chillies
1 tablespoon oil for frying
1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
½ teaspoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
1 splash of dark soy sauce
1 handful of Thai holy basil leaves
1 Crispy fried egg (optional)

Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces.

Rinse and peel the garlic and chillies, and pound them in a mortar and pestle (alternatively you can just mince them with a knife). They don't need to be super fine, you just want to bring out the oils and flavours from the garlic and chillies.

Pluck a good sized handful of holy basil leaves off the stems.

Now it's time to start cooking. Heat your wok on high heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.

When the oil is hot, add the chillies and garlic. Stir fry them for about 20 seconds or so until they get really fragrant, but don't let them burn or get too dry.

Toss in your chicken. Keep stir frying continuously. At this stage you want to continue to stir and cook your chicken until it's just about fully cooked all the way through (depending on the size pieces of chicken and how hot your fire is, it should take about 2 - 3 minutes). If it starts to get dry, add just a tiny splash of water.

Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon light soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and finally a splash of dark soy sauce. Keep stir frying for about another 30 seconds.

Grab a handful of holy basil, toss it into the pan, fold it into the chicken, and then immediately turn off the heat (if you're using an electric stove, you'll want to remove the pan from the burner). The holy basil really only needs to cook for about 5 seconds, and it will continue to wilt and cook from the existing heat of the chicken. This step is important because if you cook the basil for too long, it loses some of its glorious flavour and gets slightly chewy.

Recipe source Eating Thai Food

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review of Hotel Restaurante Alberdini, Competa, Malaga, Spain

2 Weeks ago Mr. Grumps, myself and two friends, Ken and Siss, enjoyed a special summer evening being wined and dined at Hotel Restaurante Alberdini.

An unusual and interesting Hotel.  Actually, it’s so much more than a Hotel.  There is a bar, a restaurant, yoga classes (amongst others), a swimming pool for guests and some rather unusual accommodation too.

Mr. Grumps and I actually had no clue as to this pre-arranged evening.  We were actually kidnapped and force fed!  Really, we were, read how this came about in my previous post here.

The Alberdini as it is commonly known, is just a few minutes drive from our home and yet not somewhere we have visited often.  Isn’t that just typical?

Upon our arrival we were shown to our reserved table and our waitress quickly took our drinks order.  We were then given the menus to peruse.  Same menu as when Mr. Grumps and I last dined there some two years before.  However, there was one new item we had heard much about named ‘Steak on a Hot Stone’.  I guess this needs no further explanation as “it does what it says on the tin”.

The menu is extremely varied and we were also informed of the Specials available that day.

Whilst I had been tempted to order the steak on a hot stone, I was also a little nervous by the prospect of cooking my own meal.  The intention was to enjoy myself and therefore did not want the bother of worrying about ruining my steak.  Siss however needed no convincing and ordered the Fillet Steak option.

Jabali (Wild Boar) was offered as a special that day so I was keen not to miss this opportunity as it’s rarely an option in most restaurants.

Mr. Grumps chose the fish special of the day being Dorada (Sea Bream) and Ken ordered the Pez Espada (Swordfish).

Nobody ordered starters which suited me because I was in the mood for a dessert that evening and new I could not manage three courses.

We were all given a choice of side dishes to accompany our meals.  Not being a massive fan of chips I requested rice, whilst the others chose roasted new potatoes.

Orders placed we were chatting and drinking when 4 small terracotta pots were placed on our table containing sopa de ajo blanco.  White garlic soup, a common cold soup served in Spain.

Despite being a popular soup, none of us had ever tried it before so this small offering was a good opportunity.  Unfortunately, we were not keen but a nice gesture.

When our Main Meals arrived, all eyes were on the Fillet steak served on a hot stone which Siss had ordered.  No need to explain why, just look at that beauty in the photo.

Served with 3 different sauces on the side with vegetables and  potatoes.

Ken’s Pez Espada looked fabulous with garlic, parsley and olive oil sauce drizzled over the top.

The Dorada too looked delicious accompanied by potatoes and a side salad.

I was a little surprised to discover my Jabali served as a stew.  I had presumed it to be a large cut of roasted meat.  I made this assumption  based on being told Jabali was a special that day, not Estofado de jabalí.

Whilst I did enjoy the Estofado de jabalí I will definitely question how it is prepared in future when an option.  I’ve previously eaten Jabali elsewhere which was roasted and more suited to my palette.

We all enjoyed our meals but I feel Siss made the best choice with the Fillet Steak.  I will definitely order that next time we visit The Alberdini.

Only myself and Siss ordered desserts.  Sorry no photos, Siss was tucking in hers the second it placed in front of her and I was busy pushing aside the dreaded “Squirt Cream” surrounding mine. 

Siss chose the Chocolate Mousse and I could not resist trying the Chocolate Brownie.  Both good choices, but please no more “squirt Cream“.  That stuff should never have been invented.

All in all a fabulous meal.  Great service too, nothing was too much trouble and the prices are reasonable.

Special thanks go to Ken and Siss for kidnapping us and providing a memorable evening.

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