Deer Santa Pie and Minted Mushy Peas – Pieminister, Boxpark

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Some takeaway food have a tendency to be visually unappealing. I think the options that are smothered in gravy fair the worse. Today’s lunch is case in point. Have been wanting to give Pieminister at the Boxpark a try for sometime now. Never got around to it as the weather was not conducive for rich stodgy food till recently. I think this is the final food stall at the Boxpark I have yet to review.

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As usual, Pieminister like the rest of the other shops in Boxpark is in a shipping container. Booth seats are available inside the shop as well as some outside seating. There are many pie options all at £4.20 each. Do ask what is available from the range as though they are not made in stall, they are baked on location. I like that the names of the pies are a word play on the pie’s ingredients. Kate and Sidney = Steak and Kidney, Chicken of Arragon = Chicken and Tarragon. I got one of the festive specials, the Deer Santa. Guess what is the protein in the pie?

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Yeap! Deer Santa has venison in it. Deer = Dear you see? Funny eh….heheheh… ok, I’m easily tickled. Was toying between mushy peas or mash with my pie and since I brought some leftover cauliflower cheese I made last night, went with the pea option. Total bill came up to £6 with the pie at £4.20, mushy pea at £1.50 and gravy at 30p.

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Now you understand why I say this is not exactly pretty. The gravy obscured everything and made everything brown. Even the bright green of the minted mushy pea got drowned out. Regretted having the gravy really, it did not mix very well with the nutty and tang of the mush peas which is a tad too minty for my taste. It also very nearly masked over the rich ale sauce of the pie. The venison chunks taste pretty good though, rich and beefy. If I didn’t know it was venison, I would have thought it’s a beef pie!

Highlight of lunch today was my leftover cauliflower cheese! Not going to blow my own horn too much but halving the cheddar and substituting it with cottage cheese actually worked pretty good.

Pieminister
Unit 60
Boxpark
Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6DY
0207 613 1792

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Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree Salad and Homemade Cauliflower Cheese Soup – Chop’d, Old Spitalfields Market/Junk’s Manor

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Poor Junk, victim of rubbish meeting scheduling again today. Back to back all day with only  1200 – 1400 free. To best make use of my time today, decided to pickup lunch on the way to the office. I know that Chop’d at Old Spitalfields Market prep their pre made salad in the morning so got one on the way. What? Only salad for lunch? Is Junk ill? No, I also have some leftover Cauliflower Cheese Soup I’ve made over the weekend so it will still be a 2 course lunch today.

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Won’t talk too much about the Cauliflower Cheese Soup just that I got the inspiration while glancing at the recipe section of a freebie newspaper. It’s basically onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, bay leaf, nutmeg, cream and lots of cheddar and Gruyere cheese. Gruyere cheese is crucial, it gives the soup a slight, sharp tang. How is it cooked?

  1. Saute the onion and garlic till soft
  2. Add in veg and water, boil till veg softens
  3. Save a few pieces of cauliflower for later and remove bay leaf. Give it a good whirl with a hand blender
  4. Add cream, nutmeg and grated cheese
  5. Season to taste

When I served it at home, I topped the soup with more grated Gruyere and gave it a few minutes under the grill. Makes it resemble it’s moniker. Give it a try, it’s not a bad recipe.

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Of all the pre made salads available at Chop’d, I settled on the Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree Salad as it has brown rice and I’m a rice bucket. I think the salad is an attempt to deconstruct kedgeree, a dish rich in colonial history so it contains most of the typical ingredients of the dish with the addition of salad leaves. Because I selected a pre made salad, it is not dressed and I was left to decide what dressing I would like. I settled on the green pesto dressing which I regret on hindsight, a creamy dressing would have worked better. But overall, a pretty satisfying salad. Pieces of smoked mackerel combined well with the boiled egg and hints of tarragon. The occasional morsel of raisins brings a slight sweetness. At £4.75, not a bad deal.

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Chop’d
2 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6EW
0207 247 8757

Saag Daal and Buffalo Chicken Wings – Junk’s Manor

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Today’s lunch is a bit of a mishmash but definitely cheaper than my normal lunches. Bought a bag of spinach on the weekend and was wondering what to do with it. I hate that spinach always come in big bags. I know they shrink when cooked but 1 bag last at least 4 meals for me. There were some lentils languishing in my pantry and thought why don’t I give Saag Daal a try? So I’m having the leftovers from dinner last night with a few added extras.

Consulted a few recipes for Saag Daal online and they are variants along the same theme. Basically, you soak or boil the lentils till they are tender, fry up some onions and spices, bunk in the lentils with enough liquid and continue to boil, add the chopped up spinach and you are done! For my version, I added tomatoes, ginger and garlic and for the spices, I went with tumeric, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, chilli powder and a bit of all spice. Turned out pretty good I think!

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Waitrose currently have a 1/3 off all chilled ready meals and I was tempted by the Hot and Spicy Buffalo Wings. I believe after discount, it was £1.99 for 12 wings which I thought was a good deal. Since it’s from Waitrose and need to cater for the mass market, I knew it will never be that spicy but was quietly hopeful. Alas, my instinct was right, it’s not spicy at all and to add insult to injury, it’s sweet. Decided to use it to bulk up my lunch as the wings are too depressing to eat on it’s own. Will need to go back to the Orange Buffalo for my wing kicks soon.

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For the carb portion of my lunch, I went digging into my trusty pantry and found the last bag of Tilda’s microwave basmati rice. This time, it’s Coconut Basmati and I knew it will match my Saag Daal well as it says on the package “Perfect for curries”!

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In all, a very satisfying lunch. The Saag Daal brewed up overnight and I can taste the fennel and all spice coming thru the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. The buffalo wings were ok after generous lashings of Tabasco sauce. As for the rice, not the best in the Tilda’s range but pleasant enough with quite a bit of shredded coconut scattered amongst the rice grains. I will definitely cook Saag Daal again in the near future.

Junk’s Manor
Somewhere in West London
Open 365 days a year (except leap years)
No dinner party plans as yet

Piri Piri Half Chicken – Pepe’s, Brick Lane

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Back in my other office at Brick Lane today and I bought along the last portion of my homemade “flied lice” for lunch. Was wondering what else I can get to add to it when one of my colleagues mentioned that the Tech Lead in my project practically camps out at Pepe’s everyday for lunch. Had to give it a try!

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Pepe’s looks like one of those franchise chains serving grilled chicken like Nando’s. The other franchise I’m aware of is Barcelo’s. All 3 professes to serve grilled chicken Portugese style with Pepe’s being the cheap and cheerful version.

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Decided to keep to the classics and ordered the original piri piri half chicken with a side of coleslaw. You get to decide the level of hotness you want your chicken to be. It ranges from Mild to Extra Hot but they also have Mango & Lime and Lemon & Herb for those of you who can’t take the heat. I think the chicken is partially cooked in an oven before placing on the grill after you ordered. During the grilling process is when your selected marinade is lashed on the chicken.

The half chicken was £5.99 while the coleslaw is 99p. At a total of £6.98, much more expensive than Sha Karahi’s offering but you get a bigger chicken at Pepe’s and definitely more affordable than Nando’s.

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A bit worried that since the chicken was precooked, it might be dry especially the breast but I worry too much. The chicken was nicely grilled with the distinctive smoky taste and the Hot marinade I asked for was not that hot at all. The 2 sauces provided – I think one is chilli while the other is herb and garlic – when combined, made a nice additional gravy like sauce to have your chicken with.

I’m pretty happy with my meal, much tastier than Nando’s and cheaper. Might try the fried version from Pepe’s next time.

Pepe’s Piri Piri
82 – 84 Brick Lane
London E1 6RL
0207 247 3636

Homemade Fried Rice and stuff from Tesco – Junk’s Manor and Tesco Canary Wharf

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It’s “flied lice” time! Ok, I know it’s nasty of me to make fun of English accents of different racial groups. But being a Chinese, I think I have the right to laugh at myself! Anyway, today’s lunch is a mashup of leftovers and additions from Tesco.

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Spent about 15 minutes wondering the aisles of Tesco trying to decide what will go well with my leftover fried rice. Decided on the Saag Aloo and the Spicy Fried Chicken Filet. The Saag Aloo was £0.75 which I thought was a bargain while the chicken was £3. So in all, quite a cheap lunch by my standards.

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The Saag Aloo was mildly spiced and had a tangy taste which was rather appetising. Definitely different from the other versions I had from other Indian takeaways. The chicken filet was indeed spicy, you can see the specks of chillies from the crumb coating. Would have been better reheated in an oven to crisp up the crumb coating but I had to settle with the microwave in my office.

As for my fried rice, I added eggs, minced chicken, sliced green beans and garnished it with crispy fried shallots. Not my best rendition of fried rice, but it’s ok. I think I still prefer my version with Spam. I’ll be sure to blog it the next time I make my special Spam Fried Rice.

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To make fried rice is relatively straight forward, but to make a good fried rice takes a bit more effort. Just Google “perfect fried rice” and see the number of hits returned! There is a even a musical about the famed fried rice.

Junk’s Manor
Opens 365 days a year (apart from leap year)
Somewhere in West London
Still no dinner party planned

Curry Chicken – Chez Boom

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If you’ve been following my fledging blog, you would realise that I do spend quite a bit for lunch. Not being a fat cat banker, I do need to tighten my belt sometimes. Also, I’ve been promising an austerity lunch for a while. So today, it’s leftovers for lunch with some additions.

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Potato Bread

Last week, the Boom decided to make some bread, something he never had luck with. Finally he managed to make something decent and so I offered to make curry chicken so we can dip the bread he so lovingly made. According to him, the recipe from the Hairy Bikers is very trusty and consistent. Blame Boom if it didn’t work for you! I’m glad to say that for once, Boom’s bread tastes like bread! Crusty on the outside, Soft and fluffy on the inside. Nothing goes better with chicken curry then crusty bread with a slab of butter. Ok, white fluffy rice does the trick as well!

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I’ve been trying to replicate the curry chicken that my Mom used to make but somehow, there is a “something something” that always eludes me. Does not help that I don’t use precise measurements when I cook, then again my Mom don’t measure as well! On to my chicken curry, the list of ingredients include, shallots, fresh and dried chillies, ginger, lemongrass, curry powder, cardamom pods, coconut milk, spuds and a whole chicken cut into pieces.

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Don’t know why, but curries tend to taste better the next day after cooking so Boom and I ate most of it the next day after I cooked it but there was still some leftovers. So I’m having it for lunch today. Coupled the curry with Tilda’s Mushroom Rice and a small bag of mix veg from Tesco. Curry Chicken was from leftover so basically free, the mushroom rice was languishing in my pantry so free as well. The only thing I paid for was the mix veg bag from Tesco. It was 2 for £2.50 so £1.25 each. In all, not a bad lunch I’d say!

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Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Mon-Sun 24 hours
Only for the worthy
Strictly by invitation 🙂