Hurray for Subway!

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

Finally (and thankfully), I can enjoy a Subway sandwich any day I want. I pass by it 5 times a week. Today for lunch, I had a foot-long veggie delight with chipotle southwest dressing. Everything but onions, please. My bread was oat-honey. After lunch, I then walked back to work feeling light and satisfied.

Today was my second time there. My first time was the day they opened. Tuesday. It was a soft opening. No frills, no noise, no people, no line. Suited me. I ordered a foot-long steak and cheese on dark bread with oil and hot chili sauce for dressing. My drink was on the house! Thanks to the owner who was the one serving. Ain’t that sweet?

Why do I like Subway? Aside from the sandwiches, it reminds me of the time when a friend (Hello Teens!) and I shared a foot-long veggie delight, not for health reasons but because we were saving on our food allowance. Veggie delight is the most affordable of all Subs and ordering a foot-long is cheaper than ordeing 2 separate 6-inch sandwiches. This was many years ago. On second thought, what’s fun about tightening the food budget? Personally, surviving it is a victory and I should add that the company of Teens during that period put some fun in the challenge.

Although I’m not promising anything, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be eating at Subway a few more times. I have yet to try the parmesan oregano bread. In the meantime, I can think over what to have in it. Maybe roastbeef. That was a quickie. Maybe I’ll change my mind (I’m quick in this too). I hope I don’t get tired of Subway like a number of places I used to go to because I’m running out of food places to go to.

Oh, Subway has macadamia cookies and I’m just nuts about macadamia. If I decide to get a Subway meal (Sub + 15 bucks) I get a drink and chips or a cookie. And when I do, I’ll most certainly choose the macadamia.

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Finger-lickin’-good chicken nuggets

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

They’re not just finger-lickin’-good, they’re homemade too. How great can that be? Great for lunchbox treats. Can make wonderful party finger food.

Early this week at Homebuy, I thought I had seen frozen packs of breaded chicken. On my next grocery trip, when I was planning to get one, I realized that the frozen packs were schnitzels. Slightly disappointed, I then decided to make my own breaded chicken. Crispy, golden and tasty.

I had an art professor who told our class that a good art work was not just a product of inspiration but a product of a comprehensive research. So I did some research since I didn’t even know where to begin and I wanted a good meal of breaded chicken. Yes, I’m ambitious!

Jamie once did crispy rabbit legs and thighs. I followed my pal’s recipe using boneless chicken breasts. Here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 chicken bouillons or vegetable bouillons
  • 1 litre water
  • flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • bread crumbs
  • frying oil
  1. In a casserole, boil 1 litre of water with 2 bouillon cubes.
  2. Put in the whole chicken breasts and boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. When cooled, slice the chicken breast into 1-1.5 centimetre-thick medium-length pieces.
  5. Bring out 3 trays or dishes that can accommodate all your chicken pieces.
  6. Cover the surface of Tray or Dish 1 with flour.
  7. Beat 3 eggs in a bowl. Put in Tray or Dish 2.
  8. Cover the surface of Tray or Dish 3 with bread crumbs. (Don’t be stingy with the flour, eggs and bread crumbs. Add more if necessary to coat all sides of the filet slices well.)
  9. Coat the chicken breast slices in flour. Put them all in Tray or Dish 1. Ensure they are well covered by the flour.
  10. Transfer the flour-coated chicken breast slices into Tray or Dish 2. Roll them in the beaten eggs. Coat them all over. This will ensure that the bread crumbs will stick onto the filets.
  11. Transfer the flour and egg-coated chicken breast slices into Tray or Dish 3. Roll them in the bread crumbs. Add some more bread crumbs in the tray if necessary. Coat them well.
  12. In a deep-frying pan or thick-bottomed casserole (which I use since I don’t have a deep-frying pan), pour some frying oil enough so that the chicken slices will float in them.
  13. Heat the oil.
  14. Fry the coated filets until they are slightly brown. Remember the chicken breast meat itself is already cooked. You just want the outside to be crispy. In medium heat, it will take only a couple of minutes.
  15. Fish out the crispy nuggets of the oil and lay them on a plate lined with paper towels or tea towels to drain the oil.

I should’ve made more. Although they turned out to be chicken nuggets instead of the breaded chicken that I had planned, I wasn’t disappointed at all. And they were great with the HP brown sauce.

This recipe is not restricted to chicken breast filets. After all, Jamie used rabbit thighs and legs pre-boiled with rosemary and garlic for flavours. Moreover, Jamie’s final coating for the rabbits were a mix of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

This is one recipe that will let your imagination lose. Say you want spciy chicken nuggets, add some chopped dried chilis into the bread crumbs. If you want fresh herb flavours, add in some chopped fresh thyme or oregano.

I promise that this recipe will work just as well with thighs and drumsticks. Then you got finger-lickin’-good fried chicken. Better than Colonel Sander’s, if you know what I mean.

When H and I visit B in Spain someday, I’ll make crispy rabbit thighs and legs. Guess what! I think my appetite is getting back on track. And I’m slowly warming up to vegetables (cooked) again.

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Food adventure in the city

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

About 3 weeks ago, I had confirmed to Bill that I followed the health and diet advice that I shared in this kitchen. Specifically, I saw to it that we ate fish at least once a week, that I had ground seeds in my breakfast cereal, I drank soy milk, ate tofu, and had salad with every meal.

Sometime after talking to Bill, my eating habits changed. Drastic! These days, I can’t stand the taste of fish. The thought of having ground seeds, cereal and soya milk for breakfast revolts my stomach. Green salad and raw vegetables leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I have been searching for ramen—a warm and hearty bowl of Japanese noodle soup. I’ve been to a number of Japanese places and none of them serve ramen. Ramen is as ordinary as a bowl of steaming hot rice. It’s not sushi. Sushi is fancy.

One mid-afternoon, I thought I was lucky. I went to Sandai me kato in Saint Paul Street. They happened to have “hot” ramen. It sounded promising and I was desperate. Blinded by hunger and lust for a hot bowl of ramen, I took “hot” to mean steaming hot when it actually meant spicy. Naturally, I was disappointed. But why waste food and ruin my day? I ate it without any complaint. 

I’ve given up on finding ramen in this city. Someday, I’ll go to Japan on a foodtrip. As consolation, H showed me a Japanese film from the 80’s called Tampopo. Tampopo is a lady who runs a ramen house. The film is about her search for the recipe for the best broth and noodles.The whole film is about food and food appreciation. Amusing if you can tolerate Asian comedy.

My latest food adventure happened last week. I was the mastermind and H was the accessory. We went to Friday’s. I had been thinking about enjoying a gorgeous piece of juicy steak. A straightforward steak. No fancy sauce. Just plain grilled medium-well steak. American style. The best place to get it is at Friday’s. I ordered a medium-well New York strip with buttered mushroom topping and New Orleans grilled corn cob on the side. H orderd fajitas. I went home with some traces of the steak on my blouse and corn bits between my teeth. But who cares?

For dinner today, I grilled, or should I say baked, marinated chicken drumsticks and legs in the oven. I made some creamy potato salad sans mayonnaise. Jo will love this. She hates mayo. (She used to wipe off mayonnaise in fast-food hamburger sandwich.) And to recapture some moments at our Friday’s adventure, I boiled 2 pieces of sweet corn. As it was my first time to make this kind of potato salad, it would help to polish that recipe. I’ll serve this when B visits again.

The unopened pack of cold-smoked salmon expired in the fridge. H ate up the last of the rocket salad. I hope to cook the tofu for H before it expires. There’s a portion of goat cheese left. I believe it has expired and therefore will have to go. The seeds. I think they will last while stored in glass jars in the fridge. But will they last until after I give birth?

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Healthy diet tips

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

When H and I were down in New Zealand a year and a half ago, I got acquainted with Patrick Holford’s The New Optimum Nutrition Bible. This bible introduced me to Higher Nature—maker of quality and reliable health supplements.

Let me now introduce you to Higher Nature by sharing their healthy diet tips.

  • Drink plenty of spring, mineral, filtered water, herbal teas.
  • Dilute fruit and vegetable juices 50-50 with water.
  • Reduce caffeine by cutting on coffee, tea, chocolate and some painkillers
  • Reduce intake of sugary foods, sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate. Eat fresh fruit instead.
  • Check for hidden sugars in processed foods like sauces soups cereals. Choose unsweetened alternatives or make your own.
  • Add less salt to food or switch to low-sodium salts.
  • Eat more fibre like wholemeal bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, corn, flax seeds.
  • Drink less beer, spirits and white wine. Red wine contains potent antioxidants so an occasional glass is acceptable.
  • Eat plenty of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils from fish oils, borage seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, grape seeds, avocados.
  • Cut down on saturated fats in junk food, ready-made meals, takeaways, red meat, sausages, burgers, tinned meats.
  • Avoid harmful trans fats in chips, crisps, food fried in polyunsaturated oils.
  • Eat at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day (1 portion is about the size of an apple)
  • Avoid hydrogenated fats in margarine, biscuits, sweet snacks.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables in a variety of colours.
  • Avoid artificial preservatives, colours, flavourings
  • Eat organic fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, dairy and eggs where possible.
  • Try milk alternatives like oat, rice, soy, almond, or sheep milk and goat milk products.
  • Snack on nuts like brazil, almond, cashew, macadamia, walnut, pecan, pine, pistachio.
  • Eat a little piece of protein at each meal.
  • Avoid known allergenic foods and drinks.
  • Stop smoking and avoid people who smoke and places with people who smoke.
  • Take daily supplements that basically include a multi-vitamin and mineral formula, Vitamin C, fish or flax seed oil and starflower or hemp seed oil.

The last point reminds me of my recent vacation at Ed’s and Claire’s. Aside from the 4 daily supplements, I was taking additional supplements. I beat Claire in the number of pills and capsules that they take every day. I was close to beating Ed.

My supplements sure took up a lot of space in my luggage. No, I didn’t have smaller containers and didn’t transfer the supplements in plastic bags because the original containers were good and protected the pills and capsules. Well, that’s Maggan travelling as she gets older.

In addition to the above points, I would recommend reading Patrick Holford’s The New Optimum Nutrition Bible and Dr. P. J. d’Adamo’s Eat Right 4 Your Type. These make for good reading especially when you’re resolved in starting to live a healthy lifestyle and you need a push.

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Banana-walnut bread or muffins

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

Oops! Don’t read if you’re blood type A or AB. Continue if you’re blood type O or B.

I made banana-walnut muffin the other day. I didn’t get enough and made banana-walnut loaf this morning for brunch. Aside from the difference in shape, the former is sweet bread and the latter is more like meal-bread.

This recipe is taken from Dr. P. J. d’Adamo’s Cook Right 4 Your Type. In terms of health benefits, it is categorized as neutral for blood types O and B and should be avoided by blood types A and AB. I’m and O. I hope H is neither A nor AB.

Ingredients for 10-12 muffins:

  • oil for pans (or paper muffin cups)
  • 2 cups white or sifted spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (Silly me! I didn’t read carefully and assumed the recipe said baking powder.)
  • 1 cup brown or raw sugar or Demerara sugar
  • For type O 2/3 cup or 157 millilitres canola oil (Ideally cold pressed but the usual canola oil is fine.) For type B, replace canola oil with butter
  • 2 large bananas, cut into chunks
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup or 125 millilitres chopped walnuts
  1. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Oil the muffin pans. Or use paper muffin cups.
  3. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients except walnuts.
  4. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients.
  6. Blend them together by folding. Don’t overdo it to get a smooth dough. (The charm of muffins is the rough texture and rustic look.)
  7. Add walnuts for last few turns with the spoon.
  8. Fill the muffin pans or cups 3/4 full.
  9. Bake 25-30 minutes or until your stick or small knife comes out clean when you poke a muffin.
  10. Let muffins cool on rack.

Now, wasn’t that easy? Well, the baking powder didn’t do any damage. The muffins turned out beautiful. The taste was delightful. I didn’t have baking soda but resolved to fill my kitchen supply for future use.

Jeez! I only had 3 paper muffin cups left. Before I could panic, I was able to improvise. I used up the remaining paper muffin cups and the rest of the batter went into my narrow rectangular mould. Wonderful! I’d have 3 banana-walnut muffins and a banana-walnut loaf. Moist and just-right sweet, perfect for tea or unsweetened soy milk.

This morning’s banana-walnut loaf was the unsweet version. Ideal to spread marmalade or honey on. I’ll bring some to work tomorrow for a good energy kick during our coffee break. A slice or two of banana-walnut bread should keep me feeling full for 4-5 hours.

According to the book Cook Right 4 Your Type, muffins offer many possibilities of combining different dried and fresh fruits, as well as nuts and seeds. I definitely agree. I think I’ll try apple. Then I’ll try cherry. Then blueberry. Maggan’s planning the future. The book further suggests to feel free to substitute other fruits, nuts and seeds according to your blood type.

Note: For wholegrain banana bread, replace 1 cup white or sifted spelt flour with 1 cup whole-spelt flour. This means, use 1 cup white or sifted spelt flour plus 1 cup whole-spelt flour.

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Bulgur salad with dried fruits

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

What is “new year” in Persian or Iranian? This was the contest by the magazine Food and Wine in March. I e-mailed the correct answer to the magazine Food and Wine and won 3 cookbooks: Party Cakes, Table Arrangements and Maria’s Persian Buffet. I received my prize 2 weeks ago. Thank you!

I still have a lamb hangover. In one of the later issues of Food and Wine in May, there is a salad recipe that is perfect for grilled lamb kebabs. Remember my baked lamb sausages? I imagine they’ll make a great couple too. And I’m almost certain that nobody will complain if this bulgur salad is paired with grilled fish and other seafood. If you can do without protein, eat the salad plain.

Here is the recipe for the north African-inspired bulgur salad with dried fruits. It may be luxurious with the dried fruits but, hey, we deserve some luxury every now and then.

Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 2 decilitres bulgur (Choose the coarser or big-grain kind.)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 decilitre parsley
  • .5 decilitre extra virgin olive oil (I found this too much. I would suggest to use only half this amount.)
  • fresh juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 100 grams dried figs, cut into pieces
  • 50 grams dried cranberries
  • 100 grams whole roasted almonds
  • 50 grams yellow or golden raisins
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • salt and black pepper for seasoning
  1. Cook the bulgur according to the instructions on the pack with added turmeric.
  2. When the bulgur is done, strain it in the collander and lightly rinse with cold water. (This is to wash some of the color from the turmeric, I guess).
  3. Let the bulgur drip and dry because wet salad is not fresh to the taste.
  4. In a big salad bowl, mix the bulgur with the rest of the ingredients.

Serve this bulgur salad with a mix of greens on the side and lamb kebab or sausages on top. Now, that looks like a real winner. Healthy, lovely and delish.

I wonder if I won the second contest that I joined and if the prize, a hand-carry luggage, is just delayed. I’m entering a third one, by the way.

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From Moroccan burgers to lamb sausages

Hi, my name is Maggan. Welcome to Maggan’s kitchen!

Tuesday, 10 June, around 3:45 PM. Breathe in 2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Breathe out 2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Breathe in 2-3-4… If it’s not obvious, I’m catching my breath. You see, I just came from HomeBuy for the second time to get the pots of herbs that I had bought and forgotten to pack in my earth-friendly Bliss bag. 5-6-7-8. Breath out 2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

Present. Two weeks ago, HomeBuy had a special on lamb mince. H and I didn’t pass up on that chance and bought 2 packs at a kilo each. The other day, I used the second pack to make Moroccan burgers—the very reason for the pots of cilantro, parsley and water cress. The water cress didn’t go into the lamb. We ate it with our salad.

I had been studying the Morrocan burger recipe the day before the day before I was going to make it. The recipe was published in ICA’s magazine several years ago and it had been yellowing in my kitchen files. Never done it. And so the longer I looked at the ingredients list, the stronger the urge to make and taste it.

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cm fresh ginger
  • 2-3 tablespoon fresh coriander (also called cilantro) or parsley ( I used both. The more the merrier.)
  • 6-8 pieces dried apricots
  • 400 grams lamb mince or ground lamb meat (may be replaced by beef mince or ground beef) (I used 1 kilo of lamb mince, which means increased ingredient measurements by 2.5.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander (I thought I didn’t need this since I already had fresh coriander.)
  • half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 4 pieces pita bread
  • iceberg lettuce
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber slices

They taste good, don’t they? Mild spice, fresh herbs and fruit sweetness. It couldn’t get any better, I thought.

The morning I was going to make Moroccan burgers, I switched the plan. The recipe asks for a grill pan which I didn’t have. And no, it’s not the same as a regular flat frying pan. Another thing that bothered me was the frying. I didn’t want to fry, especially lamb mince since it already had 15% fat in it.

I felt a light bulb switch on top of my head. Then I knew what to do with the lamb mince. I’d bake my lamb burgers instead. However, In terms of form, I didn’t think baked patties would look good. And so I decided that instead of patties, I’d roll them into small sausages, like the good-looking fresh lamb sausages I had seen in New Zealand that I never had the chance to taste for many reasons. 

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees Celsius or higher, but not more than 200 degrees Celsius. You have a choice between moderate baking or slightly aggressive baking. The difference will be the baking time.
  2. Oil the baking dish  or form with olive oil or any cooking oil. Set aside.
  3. Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
  4. Put them in the food processor.
  5. Add in the coriander or parsley or both.
  6. Chop them finely using the food processor.
  7. Cut the  dried apricots into small pieces. (My machine is vintage and cute. I chopped the apricots manually. From hereon, I did everything manually.)
  8. Put them in the food processor.
  9. Add the de-frosted lamb mince, spices, salt and pepper.
  10. Blend all the ingredients using the food processor. (Again, vintage. I did this manually in a large bowl.)
  11. Shape the mince into 10 or 12 balls.
  12. With the palm of both hands, roll each ball into a long oval, like a sausage.
  13. Lay them in the oiled baking dish or form.
  14. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  15. Take the dish out of the oven.
  16. Turn the sausages so the bottom ones get the chance to be on top.
  17. Bake for 10-15 minutes only as the top side is already half done.

Taking a cue from my Italian meatballs, I added .5 decilitres of water to my mixture of lamb mince. This makes the meatballs, or sausages in this case, juicy when done.

While from my experience in making meatloaf, I learned that working the meat too much will result in a compact meatloaf when done. Neither soft nor juicy. This is, of course, when blending the ingredients manually, which I always do. However, when blending the ingredients in the food processor, I have no idea if the machine can “work the meat too much.” 

Well, H and I were very pleased with the result of the Moroccan burgers that had become lamb sausages. Tender, juicy and tasty. We stuffed our pita breads with these warm lamb sausages, salad, tomatoes, tzatziki.

Whatziki? That’s tzatziki. That was what became of the cucumber. Well, like hamburgers or any sandwich, our pita sandwich needed a mild-tasting vinegar-less dressing. So, mayonnaise, chili sauce and ketchup were out. Besides, these condiments would ruin the mildness of the recipe.

Tzatziki is basically made of unflavoured cooking yogurt with diced cucumber without the seeds. Spoon off and throw the seeds. Or try rubbing the seeds on your face like a natural facial wash to feed the skin as bonus  treat for the skin.  

Ingredients for tzatziki

  • 2.5 decilitres yogurt
  • 1 medium size cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • dash of dried tarragon for seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  1. Pour the yogurt in a bowl.
  2. Add the seeded and diced cucumber.
  3. With a garlic crusher, crush the garlic and add into the bowl.
  4. Season with salt and tarragon.

Ensure you make the tzatziki at least 1 hour before serving time to ensure a more flavourful yogurt. Tastes better.

I just had 1 pita sandwich. I swear and cross my heart. My second helping was naked lamb sausages with all the trimmings—salad, tomatoes and tzatziki. Party! No, H and I didn’t eat the whole kilo of lamb mince (36 baked lamb sausages). 22 pieces are in the freezer for a meal (or 2 meals) next week.

Now, here’s a math challenge. How many lamb sausages did Maggan and H have?

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