Sautéed Green Beans With Shrimps

Green Beans , photo by Rosie Reyes- Barrera

Sautéed Green Beans With Shrimps

This recipe is as easy as ABC.  It is a quick stir-fry for maximum taste and goodness.

Ingredients

  • 150g shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 300g string beans, cut into 2 inches length
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil with the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over fairly high heat.
  2. Saute the onion, tomatoes, and garlic. (onion, tomato and garlic are the trinity ingredients of Filipino saute. 🙂 )
  3. Once the onion turns soft and the tomatoes mushy, add the shrimp and stir fry for 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Add the string beans and soy sauce. Continue to stir fry for 5 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with a freshly boiled or fried rice.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

The Age of Innocence

Age of Innocence, V&A, photo by JMorton

The Age of Innocence

The above marble sculpture of a young girl was by Alfred Drury.  It was signed and dated in 1897. Apparently it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897.  It is now housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The young model for this work was Grace Doncaster, who was a daughter of one of Drury’s friend.

I was very taken with the facial feature of this bust.  The girl has such a sweet innocence about her.  Her plump cheeks and rounded chin are so lifelike!

Snuff Bottle – Qing Dynasty

Snuff Bottle, V&A Museum, photo by JMorton

Snuff Bottle – Qing Dynasty

The above object caught my attention immediately, not only because it was exquisitely beautiful but I remember I have a similar one at home, which Peter got me as a gift a couple of years ago.

I thought it was a perfume bottle.  It was only during a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum two days ago that I learnt it was a snuff bottle, which was used during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

Smoking a tobacco was prohibited during the Qing Dynasty, therefore nicotine loving Chinese and Mongolian people had resorted to sniffing powdered tobacco contained in snuff bottles.  Inhaling finely ground tobacco was allowed as consumption was deemed medicinal at that time.

The snuff bottles were constructed as tactile as possible as they are carried by hand replacing the snuff boxes favoured by Europeans.  There were really beautiful, work of art, snuff bottles as they were a symbol of your position, how high up you were in society.  Sharing a snuff during the 16th century China was a form of greetings.

Wonderful to learn new things.  I now know that my ‘perfume bottle’ is actually a snuff bottle.  Where is the tobacco?!!! 🙂

Steak & Potato Soup

Sreak Potato Soup, photo by JMorton

Steak & Potato Soup

This soup is a complete meal in itself.  It has got everything going for it.  It is just right for the in between seasons of winter and spring – warming and appetising, perfect meal right after doing some garden works. 🙂

Ingredients

Melt the butter with the oil in a large casserole pan over medium heat.  Gently stir until the butter had liquified completely.

Stir in the steak cubes and onion. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the meat and onions are brown.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle this flour mixture over the browning meat.  

Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil.

Add the bay leaf and mixed herb.  Stir throughly.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the casserole pan and leave to simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the beef is tender.  Ensure to stir occasionally.

Drop in the potatoes, carrots and celery.  Stir in the tomato paste.

Continue cooking for a further half an hour under low-medium heat.

Check the adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Fish out the bay leaf and discard.

Serve the soup steaming hot with some crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Soft Shell Crab Tempura

Soft Shell Crab Tempura, by Arnold Gamboa

Soft Shell Crab Tempura

Soft shell crabs are just the normal typical everyday edible crab.  In a life of a crab, it undergoes some sort of moulting where it sheds its old tough tight casing and develop a new one to grow into. The new casing  is soft and this is when the is crab taken into the kitchen to delight the tastebuds of the gourmets for a soft shell crab

Ingredients

  • 2 soft-shell crabs
  • 85 g  plain flour
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 200 ml carbonated/sparkling water, chilled
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • oil for deep-frying

Method of Preparation:

Make up the tempura batter by mixing the flour with the salt and sugar.  Gradually add the chilled sparkling water.  Stir until there are no lumps.  Don’t go on stirring and daydream. 🙂 Note: over stirring will create gluten, which will make the batter stodgy.

Using a large platter, spread the panko bread crumbs.

Power up the deep fryer and heat the oil to 180ºC

Dip the crab into the tempura batter, ensuring all parts are covered.

Roll in the crab into the platter of panko bread crumbs. Cover every nook and cranny. 🙂

Shake gently and drop the crab into a deep fryer and let it sizzle until crispy all over.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.

Carefully fish out the crab and let it cool over some kitchen paper towels, which will absorb excess oil.

Repeat procedure with the next crab.

Enjoy with some green salad.

🙂

Saint Scholastica

Death of St Scholastica by Johann Baptist Wenzel Bergl

Saint Scholastica

Saint Scholastica (Santa Scholastica) is said to be the twin sister of St Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism. She is a saint recognised by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The twins came from a very affluent family of Norcia (Nursia), in the province of Perugia, southwestern of Umbria, Italy.

The twins were quite religious from an early age.  They were inseparable until St Benedict had to leave for Rome for further studies.

Later on after St Benedict founded his first monastery in Monte Cassino, St Scholastica also headed a female version (nuns) of the Benedictine monastery just a few miles from Monte Cassino.

St Scholastica Reliquary, V&A Museum, photo by JMorton

The above is a reliquary, a container of holy relics.  The hand is shown holding a bird, which is reminiscent of how St Benedict saw the soul/spirit of his dead sister as she ascended into heaven in the form of a dove.

The above St Scholastica reliquary was made from silver and originated in Spain and now proudly displayed at the Victroria and Albert Museum.  It is quite spectacular.  The little glass hole was once used to view the relic from St Scholastica’s left arm.

St Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, convulsive children, schools, tests, books, reading (there are many schools and colleges named after St Scholastica).  She is also the saint to invoke against storms and rain.

There was a mystical  story regarding St Scholastica and St Benedict.  Apparently the twins met up once a year in an inn inbetween their respective monasteries.

St Scholastica begged her brother to stay with her for the evening so they can continue praying and discussing religious matters.  But St Benedict refused; he was adamant, he had a rule of spending the nights in his cell in his monastery.

With clasped hands, St Scholastica prayed in earnest, there was suddenly heavy rain and storm, making it impossible for St Benedict to leave.

St Benedict was not very pleased! Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.[

Three days later, St Scholastica passed away; St Benedict saw the dove flying into the heavenly blue yonder instinctively knowing that it was his sister.

St Benedict ordered for his sister’s body to be brought into his monastery for burial in the space he allotted for himself.  In the end they were buried together as St Benedict also passed away not too long after.

Her feast day is 10 February!