Essay blues – Speedy noodle lunches and comforting cake

Essay deadlines are right on top of me –

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I’m keeping a tally chart of my word count on a post-it note next to my desk and even tried bribing myself with a dairy milk button for every 100 words I wrote. 14 000 words of anthropology and postcolonial theory to be handed in on the 9th and 15th May. And I am terrified.

Thankfully it’s all going ok, though lunch breaks have been drastically cut down so you are going to have to be satisfied this week with a brief selection of my weekday working lunches – all make-able, eat-able and wash-up-able in 45 minutes (plus a cake which I made this evening to cheer myself up – possible my favourite cake in the world: a good honest lemon drizzle cake).

First we have a tasty teriyaki mackerel with sweet miso aubergines – no sticky rice though as that would be breaking the 45min allotted lunch cooking time!

Quick lunch take one –

This Teriyaki sauce is taken from Reiko Hashimoto’s cookery course ‘Hashi’ which has a wide range of recipes perfect for a range of experience (and importantly budgets)In a small saucepan gently simmer 200ml Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman is my favourite), 100ml sake, 100ml mirin (which is sweetened sake) and 3 tbsp of caster sugar for about 25 mins until it has thickened slightly. Allow to cool.

We then marinated mackerel fillets in the teriyaki for about an hour and then pan fried them for about 2 mins skin side down and a quick 30 second blast once flipped.

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For the Aubergine in sweet miso sauce or Nasu Dengaku slice an aubergine into rings abut 1.5cm thick, rub them with a little sunflower oil and grill on a high heat for 5mins or until golden, turn them over and grill them for a further 5 mins.

For the aubergine sauce mix together 1 tbsp miso paste, 1 tbsp caster sugar and 1tbsp mirin to form a paste, and thinly spread the aubergines with this paste. Return them to the grill for another 45 seconds or until the miso begins to bubble. Serve with White rice.

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Quick lunch take two –

You may have noticed that flour and faff is fairly Asian cuisine centred at the moment and as well as being super tasty, many of the Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese recipes are quite quick so fit into my nasty essay writing timetable. Thai food is more of treat and takes up most of the evening to prepare.

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Here is another Chinese dish, this noodle stir fry is a take on Ken Holms three bean sauce –

Mix together 1tbsp light (Chinese) soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp black beans in chilli oil and 100 ml hot water. Set aside.

Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic, an inch of ginger, some free range chorizo (or Chinese sausage), mushrooms, pak choi and some pepper.

Fry the garlic, ginger and chorizo in a hot wok in 2tbsp ground nut oil until aromatic and then throw all your veg in and stir fry for a couple of minutes – less time if you have a wonderful wok burner and high heat, a little longer if you (like me) have a pathetic gas hob…

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Throw in a handful of cooked noodles, the sauce and 2 chopped spring onions.

A comforting cake for the end of a busy day

Lemon drizzle cake is pretty much my favourite cake – I might even say my favourite pudding, and I’m always looking around for new recipes to try and make it even better. This one comes from my friend, Neil’s mum who is lovely and sends me recipes in the post now and then.

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Cream 100g margarine with 175g caster sugar adding the rind of a lemon at the end. In a jug mix 2 eggs and 4 tbsp milk together and slowly add this to the margarine alternating with 175g self raising flour mixed with 1tsp baking powder, these keeps the mixture the same consistency throughout. Pour the mixture into a loaf tin – I’ve used a Italian Savrin tin for a change more than anything else and bake at 180° C for around 20mins – 30 if using a loaf tin.

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Turn out and pour on the juice of a lemon stirred into 100g caster sugar for a tangy and crispy icing, and finally dust with icing sugar and serve with thick jersey cream to really take the essay blues (temporarily) away – That and buying flowers once a week…

On a more positive note, I am really looking forward to finishing this degree, it has been great fun and I have learned a lot but it will be amazing to get this blog off its feet and get cooking properly (three weeks and counting)!

What do they say? – Watch this space…

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