Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cheater's Peking Duck Rolls

I know I haven't blogged for a while - too many deadlines too little time - but I'm back with what has been a personal revelation for me a few days ago.

I love Peking Duck. Thanks to my Asian-food-lover-parents, I had it quite often even as a child, and went without saying that whenever we would go to a Chinese restaurant (which was more often that you'd think considering the culinary world of Cyprus fifteen years ago) we would have Peking Duck as a starter to share. However, through the years I struggled to find an easy recipe to recreate this all-time classic at home. But (thank God!) I did not give up! And, of course, good things come to those who wait.

My version serves 3-4 people a starter and makes about 10-15 pancakes, but obviously feel free to make it for more people. To make it, you' ll need a couple of duck legs (or a whole duck if you're feeding the whole family), a few teaspoons of five-spice and some salt. Firstly, preheat your oven at 170 degrees and wash the duck legs, cutting off some of the excess fat. To season, just sprinkle with salt to help make the skin crispy and rub in the five spice.

Now, so you can skip all the scooping out the fat chore, get a roasting pan, line it with foil (so you save up on the washing up afterwards), put a grill rack on top, and then add your duck legs, so as the fat melts it will drip off onto the foil. Get it into the oven and leave those babies to roast for a couple of hours. You may want to turn the temperature to 200 degrees towards the end, to make sure the skin will be even crispier.

As soon as the two hours are up, get them out and let them rest while you get on with the other things which will bring this duck to glory: get a pack of pancakes from your local Asian shop (if you can't find them or you're not sure, just tell them it's to make Peking duck), steam them or microwave them, and cut a cucumber and a spring onion into matchsticks, as you would have them in a Chinese restaurant. As soon as the duck has cooled down a bit, shred the meat using two forks and you're done! Well, almost. The last step is so easy but oh-so-crucial: the rolls. Get a pancake, slather on some hoi sin sauce, add a bit of your duck, a couple of cucumber and spring onion matchsticks and roll. Keep going until you're out of duck.

Now, it wasn't that hard considering you're rewarded with utter bliss, was it? :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A box full of flavours: Flavrbox

I love food. Who doesn't? Understandably, I also love to try new things in the kitchen to spice things up. That's where the magic of Flavrbox comes in; a Bristol-based online marketplace with goodies from independent producers from all over Britain (which of course you wouldn't find in your average supermarket), available seven days a week, all year round, and you don't have to worry about rain either!

What's new:
While Flavrbox launched in November 2011 with only 16 producers, it is estimated that by the end of the year the producers participating will exceed 400, with the website selling a massive of 4 000 products. I dare anyone to argue that this does not translate to foodie heaven. However, now Flavrbox is taken to the next level with the Flavrbox Tasting Box: a monthly subscription service which brings to your door (at your home or office) a box with 5-6 food products (some award-winning!) from independent retailers for you to try.

Four guys who loved food and decided to make a difference in the industry by giving voice to independent retailers, and a chance for people to experience something different.

Meet the team: Noam, Simon, Seb and Ruben

Because you are bored of the same-old brands from the same-old supermarkets. Because you want something new, fresh, and of superior quality without spending a fortune. Because you want to know how it feels to cook with wild boar, venison and red wine salami, or to start the day with a cup of Tanzanian Kilimanjaro coffee, or to enjoy your burger with a dollop of Spicy Banana Ketchup on top. Because you want to support independent producers. Because you have a loved one who's a foodie lover, and this would make an excellent gift. This could be a very long list.

The boxes are sent the third week of each month via courier, and as soon as they are sent, you'll be notified so you can expect them. No, you don't need to sign upon arrival, but the boxes are tracked anyway to make sure you receive them.

How much:
Cupcake in a Jar - Turkish Delight
Lulubelles Cakes

You can sign up for as little as £15 (including delivery), with a monthly, six-month, or annual subscription. There are no hidden costs, you pay what you see on the page and that's all! If you opt for the monthly subscription, you'll be charged for the first month once you confirm your subscription, and from then on your card will be charged every month. If, however, you choose the six-month or the annual subscription, you'll be billed the whole amount up-front.

What if...:
You don't like what you get? In this highly unlikely scenario, Flavrbox people will still take care of you; you'll be offered a full refund or a replacement for a specific product you didn't like.

What if... (2):
You have particular requirements? The people who hand-pick the products will most likely be able to substitute some of the products in the box with other products more suitable to your needs. Just drop them a line at

What if... (3):
You need to transfer delivery address? No problem, just let them know.

Quince and Cider Vinegar
Dressing - Fussels Fine Foods

You don't get to know what's in the boxes before you receive it. That's part of the fun! However, you could follow them on Twitter for any hints they may drop.

You are really making a difference: 80% of the global food trade is in the hands of five multinational corporations. Enterprises like Flavrbox are an opportunity for the independent retailers and for us as the consumers to get out of this tangled web of homogenized  and unhealthy food.

A cup of Osmanthus tea anyone?

Photos taken via

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Body Shop Appreciation Post

The Body Shop has been around for some time - I recall visiting their stores since I was quite young, and always thinking 'gosh, this smells amazing!'. For some reason I still don't know I stopped using Body Shop products. Maybe it was because of a skin condition I had, and the therapy required to use only the products prescribed by the dermatologist, or maybe it was because I as receiving too many bodycare products as presents and already had excessive amounts of body lotion, eau de toilette and shower gel.

From Body Shop's 'Love Your Body' campaign
Nevertheless, as it is with relationships, when it's meant to be, it's meant to be: the Body Shop products and I were meant to be together and nothing could stop us. I loved their work ethic: they are against animal testing, they support community trade, they are constantly trying to reduce carbon footprint and promote well-being, rejecting the anorexic model of the female body which is so widely (and dangerously) used by the mass media. As if these reasons weren't good enough, I find their campaigns truly inspiring: domestic violence, HIV and AIDS as well as sex trafficking have been focal points in Body Shop's efforts to make a change in the world. Obviously my conscience loves Body Shop as well!

...and so does my body. After slathering generous amounts of body butter on my body after a bath, it feels as if I'm wearing velvet. Showering with their fruity shower gels and soaps (mango and strawberry are highly recommended), remind me of summer, but I left the best for last: lipcare. My lips dry out easily so I have quite a collection of lip balms, most of them from Body Shop because it seems that my lips love Body Shop products as well! Just a note, Body Shop's legendary Born Lippy, is now out in stick form (which makes it so much easier to apply), but my absolute favourite is the chocolate lip butter. Chocolate. It's buttery and lovely, and leaves my lips velvety soft and deeply hydrated, not to mention chocolatey.

I'm not going to tell you how many BS products I have in my bathroom; it would take too long, but I can recommend to you my favourites:

the Chocomania lip butter (see above), 

the Strawberry Shower Gel (as if it's summer all year round!)

the Polynesia Monoi Miracle Oil (it is indeed miraculously hydrating and makes you want to visit Asia), 

the Moroccan Orange Blossom Finishing Mist (for that I-just-came-from-the-spa feeling) and their 

Cool and Zesty DeoDry deodorant stick (a daily necessity which makes feel oh-so-fresh and clean in the morning!)

Do you use Body Shop Products? Which ones do you like?


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

May the odds be ever in your favour

Last night we went to the cinema with BH to watch Hunger Games, after the good reviews I've read online. To be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to like it - teenage cry-me-a-river dramas make me yawn - particularly after it was extensively compared to Twilight, which I find quite simply boring.

ALAS! The two films could not be any different. Before I move on to my mini review and why you should overcome your dislike for the stereotype chick flick and go watch Hunger Games, I should point out that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would gladly watch it again.

The heroine, Katniss, was nothing like the plain-yoghurt-at-room-temperature Bella.She's feisty, strong, highly opinionated and although there is a love triangle going on (with actual human beings that its, not blood-sucking werewolves and zombies), she does not lose focus and strives to survive and win the Games. If you've wasted enough of your time to watch Twilight, you'd know that this hardly reflects Bella who is wholly dependent on her vampire boyfriend Edward, and is reduced to pieces the minute Edward leaves town.

However, I think what I loved about the Hunger Games is the fine balance between love and plot. True, in the vast majority of films produced anywhere love plays a central role, but in this case, Katniss has a bigger fish to fry than the love triangle involving her, her partner in the Games, Peeta, and another friend from home, Gale. In fact, she has to kill some of the other contestants to win the Games, survive, and care for her family who lives in the impoverished District 12. Apparently, the soul-crashing dilemma of who to date occupies little of her time and energy, in contrast to Bella. Also a note on the male characters, the film does not revolve around their abs and biceps *hint hint*.

In other words: Watch it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...