Barcelona Eats: Part 3

My favourite part of the trip took place in La Boqueria. This place was food heaven for me. There are a variety of market stalls there from meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit. Lots of fruit.

I went to La Boqueria on two occasions. On the first day, I tried the fresh fruits, fruit juice and some dried fruits. I came across a stall with many dried fruits, such as apples, mangoes, strawberries, pineapples, bananas. I can honestly say that I dried pineapples are my new favourite snack. No added sugar, but they retain a lot of sweetness. You’d think you’re eating candy to be honest.

The fruit stalls are vast and the pricing is cheap compared to London. You can get a fresh cup of fruit juice for a little as €1.50 if you search hard enough. The same goes for bowls with chunks of fruit such as pineapples, dragonfruit, kiwi, mangoes, strawberries and more. Search hard and you’ll find a bargain.

There are also hot food stalls where you can have anything from paella and empanadas, to churros and pancakes. The options are endless.

And then they have spices from all over the world. But one thing I had to get my hands on was the king of all spices. Saffron. And Spain was the perfect place to buy it from.

The second day at the market was for tackling some savouries. I tried a spinach and cheese empanada which was great; spinach and cheese being one of my favourite combinations. I had some tasty vegetable croquetas as well – it was actually my first time trying these and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The meal of the day however, was the paella from Ramblero de la Boqueria. Again, this was my first time trying this dish. It came with prawns, squid and mussels (my favourite trinity in terms of seafood), all cooked perfectly. I can’t fault this meal and La Boqueria in general.

I’ve booked a cheeky weekend away back to Barcelona, so I’ll be enjoying the food again quite soon!


Dutch Pancakes and the Best Fries Ever

To celebrate the end of university, a friend and I took a quick day trip to the Netherlands.

Just for some background, I started my degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2014. It’s now 2019 and I’ve completely the four-year Integrated Masters along with a one-year placement. Five years later and I’m free of education!

For now.

We have suffered long enough, so it’s time to treat ourselves!

The return flight cost just £49 which was great for our pockets. We landed in Amsterdam before noon and took the typical tourist photographs by the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign outside the airport.

The first place we ate was at a pancake restaurant called Pancakes Amsterdam. The branch we were at was in Amsterdam Centraal.

They have options of traditional Dutch pancakes – sweet or savoury – American style pancakes and Poffertjes (mini pancakes). What’s great is that they have gluten-free and lactose-free options for their Dutch pancakes!

I decided to go for the traditional Dutch pancake with apple crumble, cinnamon and ice cream.

The Dutch pancake alone was fantastic, but topping it off with apple crumble pie? Next level!

Rating: 5/5

The second food spot we went to was a place called Manneken Pis. One of my brother’s suggested I go try these fries and I was not disappointed at all.

The logo may be of a child taking a piss, but don’t be put off. I went for the small portion of fries with ‘Samurai sauce’ – a mayonnaise and ketchup combination with a spicy kick.

The fries were thick-cut (my favourite kind), hot, and very crispy. They reminded me of Kettle Chips in the form of fries, and I love Kettle Chips. I wish they had something on par here in London, because I can’t stop thinking about those fries!

Rating: 5/5

My friend and I managed to do a lot in the space of eight hours including visiting:

  • I Amsterdam sign
  • Pancakes Amsterdam
  • Tropenmuseum
  • Windmills at Zaanse Schans
  • Manneken Pis
  • Gluten-free McDonald’s
  • Exploring the city

Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands will definitely need to be visited again – there is so much more to experience. However, my next stop will be Barcelona in July, after graduation!


Bulgur Wheat Jollof

The first time I had bulgur wheat was in Kervan Sofrasi two or three years ago – a Turkish restaurant in North London. The way they had cooked it reminded me of jollof rice, since it was orange in colour. It was a great alternative to eating rice.

As some of you may know, making jollof rice takes a good two or three hours. Making the switch to bulgur wheat will reduce your cooking time by half, guaranteed! When I want to cook something in bulk that will last me a week, bulgur jollof is definitely in my top five choices.

You can experiment with the seasoning as it is all to taste. Feel free to include vegetables, meat or fish to your stew to add even more flavours and textures.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 500g bulgur wheat, washed and drained
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, 1 half thinly sliced, the other half cut into large chunks
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • 1x shrimp stock cube
  • 2 tsp season all
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In a blender, blend the plum tomatoes, onions chunks, bell pepper chunks and the scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. Heat a large pot with the oil on a medium heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions and minced garlic, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree to the pot and fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the blended tomato mix into the pot and stir. Add the chicken stock cubes, shrimp stock cube, season all, ginger and paprika. The stew will start to bubble and pop at this point, so be mindful!
  4. Add the water to the pot, stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste.
  5. Once the stew has been cooked, add in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to low and stir, ensuring all grains have been covered by the stew.
  6. Cover the pot with foil (shiny side facing the inside of the pot), then cover the pot with its lid.
  7. The bulgur wheat will cook in about 20 mins, during this period of time, be sure to stir frequently or else your bulgur will burn.
  8. Once the bulgur wheat has completely absorbed all of the stew and fully cooked, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. After this time, use a fork to separate the grains, then serve.

Vegetable Noodle Soup

A warming, light noodle soup packed with a variety of crunchy and soft vegetables, topped off with a soft-boiled egg.

This dish is definitely a new favourite of mine and is very simple to make. The first time I made it was during winter; evenings were cold and coursework deadlines were nearing fast. After a long day of work, this meal kept the cold away and gave me a much needed boost of energy.

If an egg isn’t for you, try this recipe using a protein of your choice such as chicken or beef.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g dry udon noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700ml vegetable stock (or two vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 700ml of boiling hot water)
  • 50ml mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 80g spring greens, sliced
  • 120g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 large free range eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chillies (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the minced garlic and ginger for thirty seconds to one minute. Add the onions and mushrooms, stir and cook for two minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the mirin and soy sauce. Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and the spring greens into the pot. Stir and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt/seasoning if necessary.
  4. In a smaller pot, boil water and place in the eggs. Boil the eggs for six to seven minutes to achieve a soft yolk. Once cooked, place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel off the egg shell.
  5. In another pot, cook your noodles according to the packet’s instructions (the brand I used needed only three minutes).
  6. To serve, place the noodles in a bowl, pour over the vegetable soup along with the mushrooms, onions and spring greens. Top with the boiled egg sliced in half, the chopped spring onions and the sliced bell peppers. Sprinkle over some crushed chillies and enjoy!

Ghanaian Meat Pies

I first learned how to make meat pies from my mum when I was back in secondary school. If you have an African mother like myself, you’d know they always use their eyes to measure. So, that’s how I’ve done it since.

I remember going to hall parties (if you know, you know) and biting into many meat pies with barely any filling. I never understood the point of being stingy with the filling, hence why I decided to make them myself.

Warning: you’ll need a lot of time on your hands to make meat pies. Making a small batch just isn’t logical as they will be eaten swiftly. Honestly, I’ve had to hide a few in the fridge, just so I wouldn’t be disappointed when a batch of 30 disappears in 2 – 3 days. Excluding myself, there are 4 family members in the house –you do the maths!

Of course when you have no measurements, it’s pretty hard writing up a recipe. It’s taken up some time, but here it is! I’ve used corned-beef for this recipe, but go ahead and try this with a protein of your choice or vegetables.

Makes 15 – 20 pies

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1.5kg plain flour
  • 500g salted butter (I prefer Stork)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 250 ml water

For the filling

  • 600 – 700g corned beef
  • 1 large onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (any suitable frying oil)
  • 1 Maggi cube (or liquid Maggi seasoning)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup

Miscellaneous

  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • Rolling pin
  • Wooden board
  • Fork

Method

Dough

  1. In a bowl, add the flour and butter. Rub together using your fingertips.
  2. Add the teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the flour and butter mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 250 ml water.
  4. Add a little bit of water at a time to the flour mixture, and knead.
  5. Keep adding water and knead until you have a ball of dough.

Filling

  1. In a frying pan, heat up oil and fry onions until they start to soften up.
  2. Add in the corned beef and mix together.
  3. Add the Maggi cube, black pepper, chilli flakes, soy sauce and ketchup.
  4. Cook for 5 mins and check for seasoning.

Pie construction

  1. Flour your board and rolling pin.
  2. Beat on egg in a bowl.
  3. Get a handful of dough and roll in your hand to make a ball. Place on the board and roll out into a circle about 3mm in thickness
  4. Place some of the filling on one half of the circle, leaving some space around the edge.
  5. Close the pastry (should look like a semi circle). Using your fork, poke 3 holes into the pie, then press your fork around the edge for a decorative finish
  6. Place pies on a greased and floured baking tray. Egg wash the pies.
  7. Bake for 25 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!